Two pieces of good news for green car fans in Ann Arbor, Michigan. First, Mercedes-Benz says it it looking to hire 223 workers at a new research and development center for hybrid technologies there. Don't everyone put an applications in right away, because these jobs will be phased in over 10 years. As MLive points out, Ann Arbor is slowly getting a green car reputation - see also: Sakti3 and Th!nk - and the new hybrid center is just the latest piece in an alternative propulsion puzzle. The state, through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, will likely approve tax credits for Mercedes and its 65,000 square foot center. Official name: the Mercedes-Benz Engineering Center for Powertrains USA.

The other bit of green car news is that Zipcar, which has been operating in Ann Arbor since 2006, is expanding from the U of M campus to downtown. Now, any local resident can rent one of four Toyota Matrix or two Scion xD vehicles by the hour from a centrally-located parking garage. More details after the jump.

[Source: Zipcar, MLive]
Photo by zzellers. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.


PRESS RELEASE:

Zipcar Launches Car Sharing in Ann Arbor

Following success of the program at the University of Michigan, Zipcar expands car sharing to more Ann Arbor residents and businesses

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Zipcar, the world's largest car sharing service, has expanded its University of Michigan program by partnering with the getDowntown Program, the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority to bring car sharing to the downtown community as an environmentally-friendly transportation alternative. The partnership continues the city's commitment to invest in sustainable solutions and brings the successful University program to more Ann Arbor residents, students and businesses.

Beginning today, four self-service Zipcars -- Toyota Matrix's and two Scion xD's -- will be available for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will be located at the Fourth and Catherine parking lot, near the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market, and at the surface parking lot at Main and William, next to Palio Restaurant. This will bring a total of 17 Zipcars to the Ann Arbor community (with 13 already located on the University of Michigan campus). All local residents 21+ can join the service, with gas, maintenance, insurance and reserved parking included in low hourly and daily rates. All University of Michigan students 18+, faculty and staff will also be able to use the four vehicles located off campus.

"Zipcars will help us to meet our goal of providing more transportation options for Ann Arbor residents," said Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje.

Zipcar was selected as the community's car sharing partner based on its superior technology and 10-year track record of providing cities and 120 universities with a proven, cost effective, and environmentally-friendly transportation solution. To support the local economy, Zipcar has contracted with Ann Arbor-based company Betty Brigade for cleaning services and also locally sourced the four new vehicles.

"The expansion of the University of Michigan program and partnership with the City, getDowntown and Chamber exemplifies how a community can work together to bring evolutionary solutions to the constituencies they serve," said Matthew Malloy, vice president of global university operations. "Based on the tremendous success and member savings we are already seeing at the University of Michigan, we anticipate rapid adoption of the service in the downtown area."

"Zipcars are a key component in transit systems of the future," said Jesse Bernstein, Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce president. "People of all ages and livelihoods are viewing transit as part of their lives. Zipcars provide immediate access to a vehicle without the need to own one with all of the associated costs."

Zipcar partnered with the Downtown Development Authority to provide a wealth of sustainable transportation options to downtown employees through the getDowntown Program. Having the flexibility of using a Zipcar to attend a meeting or run an errand will allow employees to bike, bus, walk and carpool to work with ease. When employees and downtown residents choose a Zipcar, they are freeing up valuable downtown parking spaces for visitors and shoppers.

Zipcar eliminates hundreds of dollars in monthly transportation costs, saving members an average of $600/month or $7,200/year when compared with car ownership -- money that can be put toward other more relevant expenses such as tuition and housing.

Ann Arbor residents 21+ can now join Zipcar for $75 ($25 one-time application fee and $50 annual fee) and will gain access to Ann Arbor Zipcars starting at $8 per hour or $66 per day. As a special promotion, residents will receive $50 in driving credit when they sign up. All members will have access to Zipcar's network of more than 5,500 vehicles throughout the UK and North America.

Along with residents who use Zipcar for their transportation needs, local Ann Arbor businesses can also take advantage of the value and convenience of the Zipcar for Business service. Joining Zipcar is a tangible way for area businesses to provide their employees with a convenient and cost-effective means to reduce their carbon footprint.

Those interested in learning more about Zipcar in Ann Arbor may visit www.zipcar.com/annarbor, and click on City Partners, for more information about membership and hourly rates.

About Zipcar

Zipcar is the world's leading car-sharing service with more than 250,000 members and 5,500 vehicles in urban areas and at 120 college campuses throughout 28 North American states and provinces as well as in London, England. As a leader in urban transportation, Zipcar offers more than 30 makes and models of self-service vehicles by the hour or day to savvy city residents and businesses looking for an alternative to the high costs and hassles of owning a car in the city. In November 2007, Zipcar announced a merger with Washington D.C. based Flexcar, immediately expanding operations to more than 50 cities, and enabling future growth into new markets across the United States, Canada, and Europe. For more information, visit www.zipcar.com.

About the getDowntown Program

The getDowntown Program (www.getdowntown.org) encourages and assists downtown commuters in the use and development of sustainable transportation options. The Program is a partnership between the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, and the City of the Ann Arbor.