Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Flexcar Acquired by Steve Case: Lee Iacocca to Become Senior Advisor


With this announcement it appears that we'll most likely be seeing a dual of the titans as Flexcar faces off with Zipcar in a number of markets. However, given the potential of carsharing in all its forms (neighborhood, business, government fleet, etc.), there's probably more than enough room for several carsharing firms in most major cities.

And Lee Iacocca, as spokesperson! It's not as if he's been out of the picture - having started companies and pitched electric bikes (EV Global Motors) and NEVs (Lido) 5 years ago and earlier this year with Snoop Dogg in a TV commercial showing the two of them driving around in a retro golf cart extolling the virtues of Chrysler products.

Here's excerpts from the press release announcing the takeover:

Revolution LLC, the Washington-based investment firm owned by Steve Case, announced today that it has acquired the controlling interest in Flexcar, the U.S. car-sharing pioneer. In addition, auto industry legend Lee Iacocca will become a Senior Advisor, and an Investor/Director of Flexcar. The transaction will allow Flexcar to accelerate the growth of its locations, car fleet and membership to become the first truly national car-sharing firm.

“Revolution’s goal is to give consumers more choice, convenience and control, and Flexcar fits perfectly with our strategy,” said Case. “Car-sharing is poised for explosive growth, as it enables consumers to save on the expense and hassle of car ownership, while reducing traffic and pollution. Based on recent national surveys and our analysis of the market, we believe Flexcar can grow to serve 1 million members, sharing 20,000 cars, five years from now. And Lee Iacocca’s leadership and wisdom will play an important part in helping Flexcar to achieve these goals.”

"Car-sharing is a great option for millions of Americans, especially those who live in cities," said Iacocca, the former Chairman and CEO of Chrysler Corporation. "I look forward to working with Steve Case to build Flexcar into a great success and an iconic brand name that becomes synonymous with car-sharing."

Flexcar to Grow with More Markets, More Cars, More Hybrids

Flexcar currently operates 450 cars in more than 30 cities in six major metropolitan areas, including Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Now, with Revolution's backing, Flexcar will be able to:

o Immediately add cars in all of its existing locations, with a more than 50% increase planned in the Washington DC, Los Angeles and San Diego areas in the next 100 days alone;

o Expand to new markets including New York, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Austin, and more by the end of 2006;

o Build one of the largest privately-owned fleets of gas-saving hybrid cars, helping to promote America’s energy independence and reducing air pollution.

“Car-sharing is already a significant and trusted transportation option for tens of thousands of urban businesses and individuals,” said Lance Ayrault, president and CEO of Flexcar. “With Revolution’s support, we will accelerate our growth plans and bring car-sharing to millions of Americans that currently do not have that option available to them.”

Flexcar to Offer New Services and a Revamped Website

In addition to the expansion of cities and cars, Revolution’s capital and expertise will allow Flexcar to begin offering its members new features and services. These include:

• Onboard navigation systems in cars added to the fleet in 2006

• Free iPod adaptors for in-car iPod use by Flexcar’s most frequent users

• A substantially improved reservations website, offering members advanced online navigation, trip-planning tools, and other services

• Special offers to build and connect the Flexcar community of members

Improving the Flexcar website is a special priority for Case, the co-founder of AOL. “Given that Flexcar members aren't just sharing a car, they are also participating in a community of like-minded people, we plan to relaunch the Flexcar web site to introduce a wide range of new features that provide additional benefits to Flexcar members," Case said.

This certainly sounds like a good deal for Flexcar members. Hopefully, we won't be seeing a proliferation of Flexcar CDs in our mailboxes!

More info about Steve Case's firm is available at the link below.