Car sharing has become a popular alternative to traditional rentals in metropolitan areas and on college campuses, allowing members to get a vehicle quickly for short trips. Zipcar, which was founded in 2000, has more than 760,000 members. It went public in 2011 and posted net income of $850,000 in the first nine months of this year.
"By combining with Zipcar, we will significantly increase our growth potential, both in the United States and internationally, and will position our company to better serve a greater variety of consumer and commercial transportation needs," said Avis Chairman and CEO Ronald Nelson.
Bringing the Avis fleet into play will help Zipcar meet high demand on weekends, Avis said, when most people make a run to the grocery store or run other errands. It will also help Avis compete with Hertz Global Holdings Inc., which has its own car sharing service, Hertz on Demand.
Both Zipcar and Hertz on Demand park cars throughout cities and college campuses, which allow renters to avoid waiting in lines at traditional car rental counters. Some areas provide reserved parking for the cars and vehicles can be located online or through the companies' smart phone applications.
The car sharing companies also pay for fuel, a cost not included in standard car rentals. Although the hourly rental options are quicker and cheaper than renting a car by the day, Zipcar and Hertz on Demand are generally more expensive for rentals longer than 24 hours.
Avis Budget Group Inc. will pay $12.25 per share, which is a 49 percent premium to Zipcar's closing price on Friday. The companies put the total value of the deal at approximately $500 million.
Zipcar Inc. has about 40.1 million outstanding shares, according to FactSet. It will become an Avis subsidiary and have headquarters in Boston.
Its shares jumped almost more than 47 percent to $12.19 in premarket trading Monday.
The boards of both companies unanimously approved the buyout. If Zipcar shareholders approve the deal, it's expected to close in the spring.
Avis anticipates $50 million to $70 million in annual savings. The Parsippany, N.J.-based company also expects the acquisition will add to its adjusted earnings per share in the second year after it is complete.
Avis said that it expects certain members of Zipcar management, including Chairman and CEO Scott Griffith and President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Norman, to help run its day-to-day operations.
Avis also maintained its 2012 adjusted earnings forecast Monday of about $2.35 to $2.45 per share on revenue of approximately $7.3 billion.
Analysts predict earnings of $2.42 per share on revenue of $7.3 billion.
The federal lawsuit concerns the fuel economy of its most recent hybrid models, the C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid. Filed on December 7, the lawsuit says Ford's marketing campaign highlighting the vehicles' economy is "false and misleading".
According to Consumer Reports, plaintiff Richard Pitkin of Roseville, California, wants Ford to reimburse him and other owners the purchase price, and rescind sales of vehicles purchased in California.
It also seeks to stop what the lawsuit calls "false advertisements", and wants Ford to carry out an informational campaign to correct what it calls "misrepresentations and omissions". ( Continue… )
As the industry looks to meet tough new fuel economy targets while still stepping ahead in performance, safety, sophistication, and on-board technology, watching weight by moving to advanced materials like carbon fiber is going to be increasingly common.
Using carbon fiber for parts, panels, and structural pieces (and even in the upcoming BMW i3, for the entire body structure) is widely seen as a strategy to shave extra pounds. Meanwhile, an Australian company,Carbon Revolution, has shown how carbon-fiber weight reduction could be bolted right in: with special wheels.
Carbon Revolution claims to have the world's first one-piece carbon-fiber wheels, and they're already available in very limited numbers for the Porsche 911.
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The 19x8.5 and 19x12 wheels mount directly on any of the water-cooled models, accept the original factory center caps, and are compatible with the OEM tire-pressure monitoring system. And on a 911, Carbon Revolution cites a weight savings of more than ten pounds for each wheel (a total of 41.2 pounds, or 18.7 kg). ( Continue… )
Electric car availability is low in some Canadian provinces, but as that changes, some companies have already begun to set up charging networks.
For $2.50, electric car users will be able to charge as long as they like, with access to the units granted by prepaid card. The total network will cover 120 stations, 100 of which are already operational in greater Montreal and Quebec City. ( Continue… )
Wireless charging is nothing new--but it could be the next widely-used technology in the world of electriccars.
That's according to Pike Research, which suggests wireless charging sales will surpass 280,000 by 2020.
The group cites the partnerships of severalelectric vehicle manufacturers with wireless charging companies as the reason for such growth.
Wireless charging, often called induction charging, uses electric coils mounted in a vehicle and corresponding coils in a ground pad.
When an electric car parks over the ground pad, it creates an electromagnetic field, converted into electrical current within the car to charge the battery. As the name suggests, no wired connection between the electric car is required, and ground pads can even be installed out of sight under the road surface. ( Continue… )
Despite setting clean air targets, the city's smog problems have been increasing every year, and authorities have finally brought in measures to ban the highest-polluting vehicles.
Diesel particulate matter is a major component of smog, and is a concern for many cities around the world where old-technology models still roam in large numbers.
Up to 40 percent of the commercial vehicles in Hong Kong only meet the European 'Euro II' emissions standards--a restriction that allows for 12.5 times more particulate matter than current Euro V standards. ( Continue… )
You might think the Chevy Camaro is one of the ultimate expressions of American motoring muscle--and you'd be correct, except for the fact that it has been built in Canada since its 2009 return to production.
Reasons for the move, according to Chevrolet, are improved production efficiencies and lower capital investment, as the Camaro is the only rear-wheel drivevehicle currently built at Oshawa. The Lansing plant also builds the ATS and CTS, so adding the Camaro to it "consolidates the RWD assembly with the Cadillac CTS and ATS."
Except, of course, for the rear-wheel drive Corvette built in Bowling Green, and the company's various pickups, SUVs, and the upcoming SS, built at other GM plants. Might the "consolidation" GM is speaking of then refer not just to its rear-driveofferings, but to the Alpha platform the next Camaro is expected to be based on? ( Continue… )
Eco-minded shoppers have seen environmental issues take up more space in the news, and they've known that it was simply a matter of time before those concerns began affecting the sorts of vehicles we drive. Now, mainstream consumers are beginning to see the light.
The change hasn't come overnight. Though the first hybrids debuted in the late 1990s, it's taken the public a while to warm up to green vehicles. The delay can be attributed to the higher cost of those cars, fear of the technology, and dozens of other factors.
According to market research firm Mintel, however, a shift is underway. Mintel says that U.S. sales of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric cars should reach 440,000 units in 2012 -- a 73% improvement over 2011.
That's in keeping with the strong sales figures we've noted here. Alternative-fuel vehicles are flying off the lots, and even with a dip in November sales, automakers stand to move 50,000 electric cars this year. ( Continue… )
They may not be sexy or exciting to drive, but a new study by Consumer Reports said hybrids offer the best value for those buying a new vehicle.
Consumer Reports analyzed 200 new cars, SUVs, and minivans to come up with it latest list of the best and worst value vehicles.
While gas-electric hybrids often cost substantially more than comparable models that are gasoline powered only, Consumer Reports said other factors make hybrids a great value.
In this year's report, the Toyota Prius has replaced the Honda Fit as the best value for car buyers. "It's extremely reliable, roomy, rides well, gets great fuel economy, and is inexpensive to operate," says Rik Paul, automotive editor at Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports estimates the Prius costs owners $.49 cents per mile — less than half the cost of operating the average car.
This is the first time in four years Consumer Reports did not rate the Honda Fit as the best new-car value.
Consumer Reports calculates value scores for vehicles using the five-year owner cost for each vehicle, the Consumer Reportsroad-test score, and the vehicle's predicted reliability. Depreciation is the biggest cost for new vehicle buyers.
Consumer Reports rated Toyota Motor and Lexus models as the best value for buyers in six of 10 categories. The magazine said Toyota and Lexus hybrids stand out as having excellent value. The Japanese automakers hybrids rated No. 1 in three of four categories.
(Read More: Cheaper Midsize Cars Rated Safer Than Luxury Models)
The latest recognition from Consumer Reports comes as Toyota is enjoying strong sales for its flagship hybrid line-up, the Prius. This year, Toyota has set a record for the Prius, selling more than 200,000 models in the U.S.
On Wednesday, Toyota agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle a class action lawsuit related to investigations and complaints about unintended acceleration in 2010.
Consumer Reports Best and Worst Values:
Best Value Small Hatchbacks: Toyota Prius Four
Worst Value Small Hatchbacks: Ford Focus SE
Best Value Family Sedan: Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
Worst Value Family Sedan: Chrysler 200 Limited (V6)
Best Value Large /Luxury SUV: Lexus RX 350
Worst Value Large /Luxury SUV: Nissan Armada Platinum
Best Value Minivan/Wagon: Toyota Prius V Three
Worst Value Minivan/Wagon: Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L
Best Value Small SUV: Honda CR-V EX
Worst Value Small SUV: Mini Cooper Countryman S
The company reports that the C-Max hybrid has become the fastest-selling hybrid ever, with 8,030 units sold in its first two months on sale.
By comparison, the Toyota Camry Hybrid sold 7,300 units in its first two months on sale, May and June 2006.
We'd interject at this point and suggest that the latter statistic isn't surprising in the least, given that, like electric cars today, hybrids were very much new, unusual and disruptive technology back in 2000. ( Continue… )