When you watch the Zipcar video "How to Zip: Fill 'er Up" (embedded below) you'll see a Zipcar customer finding out he needs to stop at a gas station. There's a Zipcar co-pilot in the backseat who gives him friendly, detailed instructions on how to get reimbursed for filling up the gas tank.
He's given step-by-step instructions on using the Zipcar gas card. You swipe it at the pump like any payment card, enter some numbers from your zipcard and enter the car's mileage on the odometer. Make sure you put in the right type of gas, though, since fancier cars take premium. Keep the receipt, since Zipcar will reimburse you later. The video ends with: "Got that?" and then, "Gas is on us. So go nuts!"
Free gasoline sounds like a real benefit to using Zipcar. After all, you have to pay for all your own gasoline when renting a car, such as through Zipcar's potential new parent company, Avis. But AutoblogGreen reader Aaron Desatnick raises a question: "So [Zipcar is] advocating that people treat fuel like its endless and there's no cost?" Does that make sense? Does it get to a deeper conundrum about Zipcar and car sharing programs in general – what is their real purpose? A recent study wondered if carsharing is a "romanticized view of access understood as a form of collaborative consumption and altruistically motivated"?
Desatnick's question also raises the practical issue of reducing fuel consumption, which is supposed to be one of the benefits for car sharing. So, a question for AutoblogGreen readers might be: Do you think "wasting" gas, even when car sharing, is a good idea?