Zipcar has announced that Barcelona-based Avancar has been integrated into its car sharing network. This integration broadens the company’s international network and member base. The integrated Avancar service will operate as Avancar, a Zipcar Company. This is a key step in the company’s European expansion, which includes services in Austria and the UK. Now its customers will have more access to vehicles across the globe.
Zipcar took over Avancar in February of this year after an equity investment in December 2009. The Spanish company was the first car share provider in the country and has been offering such services since 2005. Research by Zipcar has found that Barcelona has the potential to be one of the leading cities in Europe for car sharing.
The integration of Avancar coincides with Zipcar launching its new international technology platform, which is designed to support multi-language capabilities and improved scalability to enhance speed to market with future global expansion. It also included converting the entire fleet in Barcelona to the Zipcar network. Consumer and business members’ accounts were established, and Zipcar’s car sharing service is now offered in both Spanish and Catalan languages. All members can now hire vehicles in Barcelona, with rates starting from €4 per hour and €45 per day. These rates include petrol, 20km of driving a day and insurance.
Using the technology offered by Zipcar for hiring and driving in Barcelona is convenient and easy. Members can reserve a vehicle over the phone 24/7 or online. As part of the integration, members in the city who have smarthphones on the Android and iPhone platforms will be able to download the company’s mobile app in both Spanish and Catalan. This will allow them to make reservations, honk the horn so they can find the vehicle, and unlock and lock the vehicle.
Zipcar chairman and chief executive Scott Griffith said that, with the launch of their new international information technology platform and the Avancar integration being completed, their global network is more scalable and reaches even more people. Zipcar is an appealing option for travellers, businesses and governments seeking ways to reduce costs without having to do without vehicle accessibility. This completion also positions the company to continue growing and expanding the car sharing market and its presence across Europe.
Earlier this month, Griffth took to the CTIA MobileCon stage for a keynote speech about the effect of mobile technology on transportation. He discussed the changes to Zipcar’s smartphone app with how consumers use it. The company has expanded the features so that it can function more like an in-car assistant, allowing users to plug their device in and have it ready for hands-free navigation, damage reporting, etc. He also mentioned new functions like built-in iTunes playlist and a “digital co-pilot” to provide information about the surrounding area and the vehicle they are driving. Another possibility includes texting valet parking services that support the car sharing network.
Griffith says that many things are developments that they wouldn’t have been able to do 18 months ago. Future generations will have much narrower timeframes to make their decisions about mobility. They will see different urban landscapes due to the connections in vehicles.