Zipcar raises $21 million for car sharing

Katie Gatto · December 15, 2010 · Short URL:

$20 million given by Meritech, $1 million from Pinnacle Ventures to expand its locations and fleet

Having a car can be a joy, and a pain. There's nothing quite like driving on an open stretch of highway, the windows down, on a warm summer day with the stereo blasting to give you a sense of freedom. Conversely, there's nothing like getting a $2000 repair bill to make you question the sanity of the world around you. What if you could have the freedom of the car without the hassles?

That is the model that Zipcar is working under, and apparently it is doing something right because the company just announced that it has raised $21 million, in its series g round of funding. The round was led by Meritech Capital Partners, which gave $20 million of the funding. The rest came from Pinnacle Ventures.

The service, which mostly serves urban areas and college campuses, boasts more than 500,000 members sharing roughly 8,000 vehicles in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, after it acquired UK car sharing company Streetcar for $50 million earlier this year. The company will  use the funds to finance the growth of its fleet of vehicles and continue its geographic expansion. Users of the service have about 30 makes and models of vehicles to choose from.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Zipcar, which currently allows for either hourly or daily rentals of vehicles, has been in existence since 2000. In addition to buying the above-named Streetcar, Zipcar also merged with  Flexcar in October 2007. Competitors include Connect by Hertz. Another potential competitor, RelayRides, which works on a person-to-person sharing model, is currently in its pilot testing.

Zipcar has yet to respond to an inquiry about which locations it will expand into.

(Image from Zipcar)

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RelayRides is the world's first peer-to-peer carsharing service. Our revolutionary service provides the technology, infrastructure and marketplace for car owners to securely and conveniently rent out their vehicles when they are not using them personally. This provides people seeking convenient transportation with a new option, and makes it easier for urban dwellers to enjoy mobility without owning a car.  


As the average US car is driven only 66 minutes a day, RelayRides represents the first opportunity for car owners to monetize this underused asset. By providing the infrastructure, technology and marketplace for car owners to rent out their vehicles, RelayRides gives current car owners the means to monetize a largely underused asset. By enrolling in RelayRides, owners turn a car from an expense into a cash machine, with average profit of approximately $3,550 annually (net of depreciation costs).


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Car owners list their vehicle on the RelayRides website, designate availability, rental price, and who may rent the vehicle (via Facebook and other social networks).  Car renters browse available vehicles on, reserve a car by the hour or day, and swipe an issued card over a card reader sensor on the vehicle for access during rental. 

To streamline the rental experience, gas and insurance are included.