Zipcar, one of the car-sharing companies currently active in Europe, will pull out of the Brussels market at the end of February, the company’s customer services department has announced. At the same time, subscribers were informed, Zipcar will withdraw from the car-sharing market in Paris and Barcelona.
Zipcar is owned by the car-rental company Avis Budget Group, and claims to be the largest car-sharing company in the world. It operates around 250 cars in its Brussels fleet, and arrived in the capital in September 2016. It later extended its operational zone from Brussels-City to the Nato quarter in Evere, presumably to catch the many professional visitors and consultants who visit Nato every day.
Zipcar vehicles could be picked up without a reservation, and left behind anywhere there was a parking space.
The company blames its decision on disappointing results in the cities concerned. While it may lay claim to being the largest car-sharing company in the world, in Brussels at least it was far from being the most recognisable brand – a title that probably belongs to Cambio. Zipcar’s limited field of operations must also have hampered its growth: Brussels is more an agglomeration of small towns and villages than a city centre ringed by suburbs.
Last August, director Kate Croisier also blamed the high level of car ownership in Brussels. “When you have a company car, why would you even think about car-sharing?”
Brussels mobility minister Pascal Smet expressed “regret” at the departure of Zipcar, which employs seven people here. And he questioned the reasons for the decision by Avis. “It appears to be dictated by economic reasons, but we would be interested to know the reasons which pushed Avis to take this decision,” he said.
The Brussels Times