Carsharing didn’t exist in Chicago ten years ago, when a little-known nonprofit, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, launched I-GO as an alternative to car ownership.
Today, the idea of âârenting cars by the hour is common, one of the reasons the association decided to sell I-GO CarSharing to Enterprise Holdings, the CEO of I- said on Tuesday. GO, Sharon Feigon.
Terms of the deal, which was due to be reached on Tuesday, were not disclosed.
Enterprise Holdings, based in St. Louis, owns the flagship brand Enterprise Rent-A-Car as well as National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car. Enterprise has acquired car-sharing concerns; I-GO was the last remaining major independent.
Feigon said that with the support of Enterprise, I-GO “will get bigger and stronger.”
âI-GO is 10 years old,â she said. âWe have done very well. We launched carsharing on the market, we presented the idea and we developed it. “
In an email, Enterprise said it plans to update about a quarter of I-GO’s 250 cars over the next two weeks and expand into new neighborhoods. The company also said that a mid- to long-term goal is to provide I-GO members with automatic access to carpooling in other cities and that it hopes to continue I-GO’s relationship with the company. Chicago Transit Authority. âWe look forward to working with them for the long haul,â said Enterprise.
The deal was structured so that the Center for Neighborhood Technology, an original investor, would be reimbursed the proceeds from the sale by Bucktown-based Alternative Transportation to Chicagoland Inc., formerly I-GO. Alternative Transportation will continue to focus on other ways to live without a car in Chicago, Feigon said.
For example, he’s working on a pilot project that would allow car owners to share their cars on time with people who don’t.
Carsharing has become increasingly popular, seen as an easier alternative to traditional car rentals in cities and on college campuses. It allows users to pick up a car from a nearby parking lot rather than going to an airport or rental car store for one or two hour trips. Gasoline and insurance are included, unlike traditional car rentals.
Avis earlier this year bought Zipcar, I-GO’s much larger rival for around $ 500 million. Zipcar had 775,000 members as of March and serves 20 cities, including Chicago, and 300 colleges. Avis Budget Group Inc. is the third largest car rental company in the United States, behind Enterprise and Hertz Global Holdings Inc.
Hertz launched its own carsharing service in 2008 and in 2009 acquired Eileo, a Paris-based carsharing service.
Enterprise acquired PhillyCarShare, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit, in 2011 and last year Mint Cars On-Demand, which serves more than 8,000 members in New York and Boston.
I-GO, with 23 employees, serves 15,000 members in 40 neighborhoods. The goal was to have cars in every block of Chicago’s more than 200 neighborhoods. Its mission was to provide affordable transportation to everyone, regardless of neighborhood or income.
Kathy Tholin, Managing Director of CNT, said, âWe couldn’t be more excited to buy I-GO through Enterprise, which she has supported from the start. She said the concept was discovered in Europe by a CNT staff member and that I -GO was one of the first non-profit carsharing services in the United States. CNT, an innovations lab, will use the proceeds of the transaction to invest in other urban initiatives, Tholin said.
Feigon said I-GO had been approached by several companies over the years, but he believed Enterprise was the best solution for serving neighborhoods. The company, she said, wants to keep all 23 I-GO employees as well as a local call center.
Mark Warner, who lives in Wicker Park, has been an I-GO user since the inception of the company.
He said he uses the service for his company, MDW Consulting Inc., a fundraising consulting firm of which he is the president. He said it’s cheaper than owning a car and renting a parking spot in the neighborhood.
âIt sounds like a deal that could be very beneficial as it could bring in new capital that they could invest in other companies,â Warner said. He said he hopes that means he can tap into the Enterprise vehicle network when he leaves the Chicago area.
Gabe Sulkes, 23, moved to Chicago in August 2011 with no intention of buying a car, but last year he found out he needed it to get things back to his Bucktown apartment.
âAs a frugal hipster in Chicago, I decided to go without a car and just use my bike as a sustainable form of transportation,â said Sulkes, policy adviser in the Department of Transportation’s planning and programming office. Illinois.
This combination works well 90 percent of the time, he says. But the Cornell University graduate added, âAnytime I found an item on Craigslist and couldn’t balance it on my bike, I would pull out a car,â he said.
Sulkes said he chose to join I-GO to support a local business and liked being able to use a single card to access cars and borrow the CTA.
Freelance writer Cheryl V. Jackson contributed.