Apr 19, 2019

Zipcar gets ready for AV rentals

Tracey Zhen. Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Zipcar, the world's largest car-sharing network, is preparing for the day that consumers don't have to walk to find their shared rental car, but instead it comes to find them.

The big picture: Zipcar is the original auto-industry disruptor, giving customers on-demand access to vehicles as a viable alternative to car ownership. But the 19-year-old company faces competition from new mobility services including peer-to-peer car-sharing networks like Turo — and even driverless taxis some day.

But it has 3 advantages the newcomers lack, Zipcar president Tracey Zhen tells me:

  1. Years of experience with fleet management. Zipcar knows how to match supply and demand, and can quickly reposition cars where they're needed.
  2. Strong customer loyalty through its subscription-based model. Rivals need to find, acquire and keep new customers.
  3. Trusted partnerships with city leaders. Transportation is a local issue, so collaboration is important.

Why it matters: All that experience will be important in an AV world, she says. The vehicle use cases won't change, even if there's no one behind the wheel.

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America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."