Zipcar will test electric vehicles
Zipcar and Toyota handout
Don't be surprised to see a Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle with a Zipcar logo tooling around Boston some time soon --- or near the campus of MIT.
The Cambridge-based car-sharing service said in a press release that it is testing this model to see if it's a good fit for the Zipcar fleet. The Prius Plug-In Vehicle is not scheduled to become commercially available until next year.
Zipcar Inc. said today that it is evaluating eight Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles in such markets as Boston/Cambridge, San Francisco, and Portland, Ore. One of the electric vehicles, or EVs, will be located on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Zipcar said.
Following its recent acquisition of the British car-sharing company Streetcar Ltd., Zipcar has about 8,000 vehicles in its fleet and roughly 530,000 members in urban areas and college campuses throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
"The new vehicles are part of a pilot program with Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. to demonstrate plug-in hybrid technology, evaluate the performance of the vehicles and help to educate and prepare the public for the electrification of the automobile," Zipcar said in a press release.
According to Zipcar, Toyota is distributing 160 Prius PHVs nationwide as part of the run-up of the car's official commercial debut.
In a statement, Zipcar chairman and chief executive Scott Griffith noted that his company is committed to "taking a thoughtful and deliberate approach to EVs."
He added: "Zipcar is an ideal test bed for early consumer acceptance of EVs. This project will allow companies to receive direct feedback from thousands of consumers in three cities and help evaluate how EVs fit into a large-scale car sharing model."
Meanwhile, last month, Zipcar said its acquisition to buy Streetcar Ltd., a British car-sharing company, had been given final clearance by regulators in the United Kingdom who were initially concerned that the deal might lessen competition. When the deal was announced last spring, Zipcar said it would pay about $50 million in company stock to buy Streetcar.
In June, Zipcar filed for an initial public offering worth up to $75 million. So far, no date for that IPO has been set. In that regulatory filing, Zipcar reported 2009 revenues of $131.2 million but said it was $56.4 million in debt.