Yes, it is quite symbolic. In this age of Millennials putting off driving and "peak car" sales being replaced by car sharing and other mobility, it is time for Zipcar to arrive in Motor City. The Detroit automakers may be seeing strong sales these days, but that's not expected to last forever.
Detroit's downtown residents can now get around in a Zipcar. The carsharing company is so far providing just two cars – a Ford Focus and a Ford Escape – to 6,000 downtown residents through Rock Ventures LLC, a Detroit business development entity. The cars follow behind an employee-only bike-share program called Zagster that was launched by another company in Detroit in late July.
Local business leaders think carsharing is a smart thing to do with the growing number of young professionals living and working downtown. As mentioned, members of the Millennial or Gen Y segment are putting off getting drivers licenses and don't want to buy cars as much as previous generations do, but they still need to be mobile. Zipcar has already brought its services to Michigan, to Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Houghton and Wayne State University in Detroit already brought Zipcar on campus about two years ago. Once registered, downtown Detroit residents can rent a car for about $8 to $10 an hour. The two Fords are in a trial period for about 60 days, after which Zipcar will decide if more need to be added.
With the first Zipcars now ready in downtown Detroit, there is no word if any of the Detroit 3 are ready to enter the car sharing business and follow in the footsteps of Daimler's Car2Go and BMW's DriveNow. But you never know.