TORRANCE, Calif., Mar. 12, 2002 --- American Honda Motor Co., Inc., has purchased an 18.4% equity stake in Mobility Inc., a privately held company operating car-sharing programs under the brand name "Flexcar" in several metropolitan areas, the companies announced today.
Headquartered in Seattle, Flexcar's innovative program provides members with access to a fleet of vehicles located throughout a metropolitan area. Members reserve the vehicles for hourly use, with Flexcar covering the cost of the car, gas, parking, insurance and maintenance. Members pay only for the time they use the car. Flexcar serves more than 4,000 members in Washington D.C., Seattle, and Portland.
Honda has been involved in car sharing programs since the introduction of its Intelligent Community Vehicle System (ICVS) concept in 1994. ICVS is designed to supplement existing public transportation modes by sharing a limited number of cars among many users.
Honda has evaluated ICVS programs in the United States, Japan and Singapore. Based on the know-how it has gained from its ICVS operations, Honda will provide technology and support for Flexcar's vehicle tracking and management system, in addition to part of the vehicle fleet.
"Flexcar and Honda share the same goals of reducing pollution and congestion, while meeting society's transportation needs," said Robert Bienenfeld, senior manager of product planning at American Honda. "Flexcar provides people with access to vehicles when they need them, yet encourages the use of mass transit and car pooling."
Two California programs have served as real-world test beds for Honda's ICVS technology, which includes the vehicles along with the sophisticated scheduling and tracking software that make the systems work smoothly. Carlink II in Palo Alto is a partnership between Caltrans, American Honda, the University of California, Davis, and other public groups. UCR Intellishare in Riverside is also part of Honda's international ICVS concept, and is a joint research project with the University of California, Riverside, along with other public groups interested in pursuing new concepts in transportation efficiency.
Honda also demonstrated an ICVS system at its Twin Ring Motegi motorsports complex in Tochigi, Japan, from 1998 to June 2000 using four types of specially developed ICVS vehicles. A new ICVS program was opened in the Republic of Singapore on March 1, 2002. About 50 members are sharing 15 of the new gasoline-electric Civic Hybrid models.