Reducing Costs & Emissions via Municipal EV Car Sharing

Municipal car sharing can have a significant impact on municipal fleet use and expenses. The City of Houston is the latest to employ car sharing and an all-electric

What Happened

With fifty percent of its current municipal fleet already hybrids, the city of Houston has teamed up with Zipcar to add an EV car-sharing platform for municipal employees.


Houston already owns more than 800 hybrid vehicles as part of its fleet. With the Houston Fleet Share and Houston Drives Electric Initiative programs led by Mayor Annise Parker, the city has been working diligently to become a leader in sustainability. This effort coincides with LED lighting at more than 2,500 intersections, commercial rooftop wind turbines, and a bike sharing program operated by B-Cycle.

Zipcar Partnership

When investigating a potential opportunity to provide municipal employees with car sharing services, Houston put out to bid an RFP seeking a provider, which ultimately led to a winning bid by Zipcar. Currently, more than 300 employees in 13 city departments are enrolled.

According to Mike Serafino, GM of Zipcar’s FastFleet, municipalities typically enter into a “SAS” (software as a service) agreement, in which fees are based on the number of vehicles under management. With FastFleet now in 12 cities, the company sees significant growth potential and opportunity in the municipal market. “There’s really no minimums in terms of the size of a city we can work with,” said Serafino. “If they have at least 20 ‘assets’ [cars], it likely makes sense for them to work with us.” He added that the ZipCar FastFleet platform was built specifically for car sharing services, enabling rapid implementation among other advantages.


A widely cited study of municipal car sharing was funded by the City of San Antonio, which hired PFM to survey other cities currently offering the service.

Some of the key takeaways are:

  • Car sharing offers numerous economic, environmental and community benefits
  • Downtown city areas are the most promising in terms of implementation
  • Success is based on the city taking an active role in promotion
  • Five car pilot programs may be the best way to start
  • Programs offering car shares for municipal employees, private companies and residents are successful
  • RFIs are a smart way to learn what business models may be available
  • Potential savings of up to $160,000 over a five-year period
  • Five car pilot program will save 55 tons of greenhouse emissions annually
  • Breakeven point for car sharing vs. owning is 5,947 miles or $6,872

In the case of the Philadelphia car share program, the city was able to shed 330 fleet vehicles. They partnered with the already existing resident-based PhillyCarShare to provide vehicles to employees. With an online reservation system allowing for easy use, more than 312 employees from 16 city departments are using the car sharing service.

Significant Results

When the City of Philadelphia implemented a car-sharing operation, it charged each department for its own car-sharing trips. When individual employees knew that their vehicle use was monitored and departmental managers were held accountable for vehicle use by their employees, department vehicle usage dropped 50 percent.


Page 22 of the PFM report linked to above offers a Summary of Public Sector Car-Sharing Trends. In this summary, the following cities are listed with information on the operator of the car share program, how municipalities use the services, whether the general public can also utilize and the overall program details.


If you’d like to reach out to Mike Serafino, GM of Zipcar’s FastFleet, he can be reached via email. Please note that Gov1 has no relationship with Zipcar, and does not endorse nor benefit from the company; rather, we are providing the information above as a service to readers who are considering deployment of similar fleets.

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