Zipcar is unique because it allows a customer to rent a car for a portion of a day, instead of requiring a full day’s access like other rental car firms. This is probably Zipcar’s best feature, because there are many other rental car firms. Zipcar rents hybrid cars, but so do many other rental car firms.

Another advantage of Zipcar is its insurance coverage. Unlike other firms, Zipcar itself directly pays for insurance, instead of offering it as a rider like most insurance companies do. This feature is very efficient when the driver is renting a car for part of the day, because insurance companies traditionally offer insurance coverage per day, not per hour. For a full day’s use it might not be the best deal though, because the driver might be able to get cheaper coverage somewhere else.

Renting a car for a portion of a day is a major benefit that can be expanded to other businesses.
For example, a video rental store usually offers a customer the option of renting a DVD for several days, although the DVD is not several days long. The customer would gain the greatest benefit if he could rent the DVD for a few hours and return it, which would allow the rental store to charge a lower price because it could rent the DVD to another customer.

Because of the reduced cost of partial usage, the customer can also afford additional luxury features. The customer can get extra options such as XM radio access and access to GPS navigation systems, because the cost of these features is shared among all users. Again, this feature is applicable to other industries. A customer can rent a more expensive bicycle with extra gears and other upgrades if she only plans to use it for a few hours.

Partial renting is also good for the environment. If someone rents an item for a week, he may use the item heavily for the entire week, so that he can get his money’s worth for the item. For a vehicle, this means a lot of mileage and a lot of emissions. If the driver only rents a car for a few hours, this incentive isn’t present.