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= Carsharing initiative



""For drivers who already share movies via Netflix and stream music rather than buying CDs, the idea of sharing a car is the natural extension of a hip, financially smart, and environmentally conscious urban lifestyle.

After all, drivers who give up their cars and switch to Zipcar say they save an average of $600 per month. Car sharers report reducing their vehicle miles traveled by 44%, according to Susan Shaheen of the University of California at Berkeley, and surveys in Europe show CO2 emissions are being cut by up to 50% per user.

"When I meet another Zipcar member at a party or something, I feel like we have something in common," says Francis Smith, a photographer who lives in Brooklyn. "It's like we're both making intelligent choices about our lives."

Businesses are catching on too. About 8,500 companies have signed up for the service, including Lockheed Martin (LMT, Fortune 500), Gap (GPS, Fortune 500), and Nike (NKE, Fortune 500). So have 120 colleges and universities, such as Carnegie Mellon and the University of Miami.

Zipcar is also marketing its technology -- the hardware and software that keep track of the cars -- to city governments. Washington, D.C., retrofitted its fleet this year using Zipcar's wireless systems and estimates that the move will save it $1 million a year. "It's just such a no-brainer," says Ralph Burns, who manages the D.C. government fleet. "Agencies putting their budgets together for next year are calling me up and saying, 'Ralph, I've got 25 cars I want to get rid of!'"

Though car sharing is an audacious challenge to the whole principle of car ownership -- each shared vehicle takes up to 20 cars off the road as members sell their rides or decide not to buy new ones, says Shaheen -- the auto industry is increasingly realizing it has little choice but to play ball.

Toyota (TM) and Ford (F, Fortune 500) have already begun exploring ways to work with Zipcar, from using its members to test electric cars to designing vehicles specifically for the sharing market." (