Sunday, April 17, 2005

Flexcar simplifies its rate structure

When Flexcar pioneered the (almost) hourly-only rate structure several years ago, they hoped that the simplification would make it easier for prsopective customers to understand the rates. There doesn't appear to be any evidence of that, perhaps because there was a cap on "free" miles (10 miles per reserved hour, later upped to 30). In the never-ending quest to hit the customers' "sweet spot" Flexcar is making some adjustments in its rate structure effective May 1, 2005.

• Unlimited mileage per hour
• Discontinued the 5 hours per month "Advantage" plan
• Additional hours on any rate plan are charged at the same rate (previously additional hours were 50¢ more)
• Started a 7 hour daily rate on selected cars (the so-called "Freedom" cars designated each month) in addition to the 5 and 10 hour Freedom vehicles
• $1 per hour discount on selected cars (changes each month)
• Annual driver/membership fee increases from $25 to $40 starting in June.

Going to an true hourly-only rate structure is a gutsy move, even though the original included 10 miles per hour was way over the miles per hour used by members n an average trip. Considering that gas and insurance is included, the Freedom 7 rate is very attractive for weekend rentals: a 2-day use of Freedom 7 vehicle at the Advantage 10 rate would be $120. A rental car might cost $113 ($40 per day with additional liability coverage + 10% rental car tax + 1 tank of gas at $25).

Presently Flexcar charges the same rates for the Honda Odyssey minivan, Mazda Miata and Honda Element AWD. The possibility to tack on a $1/hour discount provides a little room for city managers to provide a nudge to cu

So Flexcar's current rates in all markets but southern California, are:
Standard plan - $9.00/hour unlimited mileage
Advantage 10 - 10 hours per month = $8.50/hour, unlimited mileage
25 hours per month = $8.00/hour, unlimited mileage
50 hours per month = $7.50/hour, unlimited mileage (the plans below are primarily of interest to business customers)
100 hours per month = $7.30/hour, unlimited mileage
200 hours per month = $7.25/hour, unlimited mileage

Here's the fine print for people who aren't Flexcar members (no change from before) You can change plans at any time before the end of each month and the new rate will apply to all trips taken that month. However, if no changes are made, you will get billed at the previous month's rate, no matter what the amount of usage. There is no roll-over for unused hours.

Other idiosyncrasies of their rate plan are:
Free overnight usage (midnight to 6 am) applies only to Advantage Plans (Standard plan cost regulare hourly rates)
Certain partnership programs provide discounts - transit pass holders, food coop members, and low income (which I'll discuss in the future).

I'll discuss various rate structures used by other carsharing companies in the future. Here's a link to Flexcar's old rates