Sharing Cars and Saving Cash: Zipcar Brings FastFleet to Government Sector
Zipcar launches pilot program to lease fleet management technology to D.C. government vehicles. Flickr photo by katmere.

Zipcar launches pilot program to lease fleet management technology to D.C. government vehicles. Flickr photo by katmere.

The latest car-sharing model to hit the streets could save millions of taxpayer dollars, reduce pollution, and make it easier to beat the morning commute.

The one-of-a-kind service is called FastFleet, a new fleet management system designed specifically for the municipal and federal sector. And it’s run by Zipcar, the largest car-sharing company in the world.

From the Associated Press via Forbes.com:

[Zipcar announced plans on Monday for a new venture] that will allow municipalities to equip their vehicles with Zipcar’s reservation and management systems. The company says having city employees share vehicles will allow governments to streamline their fleets, saving money and helping the environment.

The new program comes as cash-strapped local governments look for ways to trim costs amid a slumping national economy.

A pilot program under way for six months in Washington, D.C., has allowed the city to reduce the total number of passenger cars in its fleet by 360, or 17 percent. District of Columbia officials are projecting net savings of more than $1 million after the first year and $6.6 million after five years.

Unlike Zipcar, FastFleet does not provide vehicles. Instead, the participating city provides the cars, and ZipCar merely leases them the equipment and technology, which costs between $65 and $90 per car per month.

Does this signal a revolution in government auto fleets?

Close, but not quite, says Fast Company:

All told, the U.S. government and its local entities own about four million vehicles; if the D.C. pilot program is any indication, FastFleet could allow defect-ridden cities and agencies to unload unnecessary cars and cut down on fuel and insurance costs.

But with U.S. automakers struggling, the Obama administration doesn’t seem entirely on board with the program. Just three weeks ago, the President announced that he was asking the federal government’s General Services Administration, which oversees federal passenger vehicles, to purchase a whopping 17,600 new, fuel-efficient cars from U.S. automakers. Roughly 2,500 of those will be hybrids, driving the cost up to about $285 million in sum–not exactly consistent with the car-cutting ethos of the FastFleet program. Whether other cities and agencies will follow D.C.’s lead remains to be seen.

Browse the FAQs about the program on FastFleet’s Web site to learn more.

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