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4 Alternatives to Owning a Vehicle

Author: C. Galoozis Date: April 02, 2012

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Owning vehicles can be a costly investment for your business—especially when fuel and maintenance costs enter the equation. That’s why some small business owners opt for renting or car-sharing services. They’re often less expensive than owning a vehicle, even if you need one several times a month. Basically, it gives you all the benefits of having a vehicle without the burdens of owning one.

Here are some great options for small businesses:

1. ZipCar and ZipVan

ZipCar, the popular car-sharing service, allows you to rent cars on an hourly or daily basis (most car rental companies charge on a daily basis) with a yearly membership fee of $50 to $60. ZipCar recently rolled out a new service called ZipVan, which rents cargo vans for $14.75 per hour or $99 per day. Gas, insurance and 180 miles are included in the price. The cars are unattended vehicles that you can pick up from a parking lot, and use your member key to open and drive it. It’s perfect if you have to make a delivery or only have occasional need for transportation.

Save on Rental Cars2. Getaround.com

On a tight budget? Rent a car or a truck by the hour, day or week from real people on Getaround.com. Individual owners of vehicles set their own prices—which typically range from $6 to $15 an hour—and insurance and 24-hour roadside assistance is included in the price. Simply reserve a car through the website or through Getaround’s iPhone app. In some cases, you may need to meet up with the owner to get the vehicle; in others, you can open the vehicle with your smartphone. There are no membership fees. It’s currently available in San Francisco and Portland.

3. RelayRides.com

Like Getaround, you can rent an individual’s car, truck or van. Rentals start at $5 per hour. The price includes insurance, 24-hour roadside assistance and customer service. It’s available in most major U.S. cities. RelayRides installs a device in the owner’s vehicle so you can open the car without meeting in person. No membership fees are required. 

4. Independent Companies

You may be able to strike a deal with local, independent car or van rental companies. HikeInPhoenix.com, a company in Tempe, Ariz., that provides hiking tours, opted to rent passenger vans from a local rental company at a discounted rate when driving customers out to hiking sites. “Renting saves us a tremendous amount of funds,” vs. owning, says Fred Greenspan, vice president of public relations for HikeinPhoenix.

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