Print Friendly, PDF & Email
FastFleet Follow-up: Small Innovation, Big Impact

zipcar
The coolest thing about Zipcar’s new FastFleet service isn’t the technology–it’s the buzz. Photo by dominiccampbell.

In response to yesterday’s post about Zipcar’s launch of FastFleet, a municipal fleet management service, Clayton Lane, the chief operating officer of EMBARQ and co-founder of PhillyCarShare, shares his opinion about what’s new and why we should care.

The Story is the Story
By Clayton Lane
Chief Operating Officer
EMBARQ – The World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport

This is a great PR “win” for sustainable transportation. But the real innovation here isn’t the cool technical solution, which is very “2004.” It’s the buzz. Zipcar and D.C. are recycling a truly sustainable solution and making a big fuss about it. For that, they deserve our compliments.

Before I support why D.C’s news is actually important, let’s clarify what is NOT new.

Car-sharing technology in a corporate fleet? Check! Eileo, a Paris-based provider, launched Faciliz in 2005, quicker than Zipcar can say “FastFleet.”

Municipal car sharing? Check! Philadelphia rocked the world of city fleets in 2004 when it sold 330 cars and joined non-profit PhillyCarShare, saving about $7 million over four years. Soon other cities followed suit, from Berkeley to Minneapolis to Chicago… to Washington, D.C.

So, what’s new? Technically, the installation of car-sharing technology into a government’s own vehicles has no precedent. The technological feat seems hardly remarkable given long industry experience. Nevertheless, this slight innovation provides a soapbox on which D.C. and Zipcar can tout sustainability from the rooftops. Even if only a hair separates them from history, they are trend-setters, ahead of the curve, and making news where it should be — in sustainable solutions that matter.

D.C. convened great minds to make this project work. Gabe Klein, head of the D.C.’s Department of Transportation, is a former Zipcar executive. Sharon Kershbaum, D.C.’s Assistant Director for Performance Management, implemented Philadelphia’s groundbreaking project back in 2004. Public Financial Management, Inc., another Philadelphia alumnus, helped D.C. evaluate its alternatives.

Like many green solutions, this one makes sense on many levels, saving money, time and the environment. The PR success, like the technological solution, is worth replicating. Let’s congratulate D.C.’s city government for making a very smart move. And let’s compliment Zipcar for making a very big deal about it.