It’s no secret that Ford is pulling out all the stops in an effort to entice younger buyers into its new products with test-drive promotions, including social media such as Facebook. Now, in a two-year agreement with Zipcar, Ford will be the largest single provider of vehicles to more than 250 college locations in the Zipcar network.
Ford chairman Bill Ford and Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith with 2012 Ford FocusEnlarge Photo
What’s the big deal and how does it impact college students? That’s easy: access. For years, the biggest stumbling block to college students renting cars is the age restriction by many car rental companies that the renter has to be at least 25 years old.
With the Zipcar car-sharing service, that’s not an issue. In fact, making cars available to students on college campuses is where Zipcar has made itself known.
Ford vehicles are en route to college campuses now and will be available to student members of Zipcar starting September 1.
Zipcar will add the 2012 Ford Focus to its college car-sharing locationsEnlarge Photo
Ford Zipcar fleet includes Focus and Escape
Appealing to the fun-to-drive and affordability requirements of younger drivers, Ford’s fleet of Zipcar vehicles primarily includes the 2012 Ford Focus compact hatchback and the 2012 Ford Escape small crossover.
In the product information supplied, Ford touts the 40-mpg highway fuel economy of the Focus (which would mean the Focus SFE model), while the Escape’s fuel economy is listed as up to 28 mpg highway, so that likely means no Escape Hybrid is in the mix.
Both vehicles do feature Ford’s SYNC voice-command system, which the automaker expects to appeal to college students.
How the Zipcar program works
It’s basically a four-step process: Apply, reserve, unlock and drive. Joining is easy. Students complete an online application and Zipcar runs a driving record check, returning the applicant’s Zipcard in the mail within a week.
Next, students can reserve a vehicle minutes or months in advance by going online or using an iPhone or Android app. Students choose the campus location, time slot and car.
At the time and location, just walk up to the selected car, hold up the Zipcard, and the vehicle unlocks. Drive away and return the vehicle to the same parking spot at the end of the reservation, use the Zipcard to lock the vehicle, and walk away.
Simple, fast, and affordable, that’s the promise.
How’s the affordable part work? As part of the Ford deal, Zipcar will discount the $35 annual membership fee by $10 to the first 100,000 students to sign up. There’s also an additional $1 per hour off the rate for the first one million hours that students log in Ford vehicles.
[Ford via GreenCarReports]