In touting the benefits of its plans to acquire Zipcar last week, Avis Budget Group said the $500 million deal will help it increase revenue and better manage its fleet of vehicles. The technology that powers the self-service hourly car rental service could also help Avis build critical mass for greater mobile payments adoption.
Billed as a "car sharing" service, Cambridge, Mass.-based Zipcar provides its members with keyless entry cards to access its fleet of more than 10,000 vehicles located throughout 20 cities and 300 college campuses. The RFID-equipped "Zipcard" interfaces with the company's fleet management system that tracks the location and use of its vehicles. Users hold the card over a reader located on the car's front windshield to start and end a reservation and unlock and lock the car between stops. The car's key is stored inside, but it won't start without the driver first scanning a Zipcard.