Machining Timeshare

By Lloyd Graff

The current Fortune Magazine’s cover story is about Zipcar, the car sharing rent-by-the- hour company that is changing the way people look at car ownership in urban areas.

Zipcar has outflanked Hertz and Enterprise in this fast growing segment of the rental business, though the biggies are now pushing to catch up.

The Zipcar approach is 10 years old with 325,000 members who pay $50 per year for the privilege of being a Zipster. Cars are available at unattended parking lots in big cities. People rent them to go to the store, move residence, visit friends, go for an interview etc. Average users claim they save $600 per month on car ownership and drive 44 percent less miles than before shedding their car.
Nice for the environment and all that good stuff. But the Zipcar idea excited me not just for what it means in automotive land, but for what it portends all through the economy.

As I look at my own buying habits today I am growing more and more in sync with the short-term rental—forget about owning—idea.
A week ago I decided on the spur of the moment to go to the Cubs—White Sox game which was the make up for a June rainout. I asked Noah to accompany me to Wrigley Field. I told him I was going to buy the best box seat available, because if I go to a game (which I rarely do) I want it to be the perfect ballgame experience. We sat in the second row behind the first base dugout and loved the game despite the Cubs losing.

My wife Risa and I did the same sort of thing on our 48-hour summer vacation in the city. We booked the cheapest room in the best hotel in Chicago and had a wonderful weekend getaway.

I see the value of ownership of depreciable things like cars and homes to be a less and less attractive concept today.
We may see the same view take over in the machine tool realm. With short-term jobs being the flavor of the day I can imagine machine rental by the hour. The same for attachments. A thread whirling attachment for a Swiss CNC might not be worth the money for a buy, but could make sense for a one-week rental. I can imagine an entrepreneur setting up a shop with big lathes and horizontal machining centers and renting the machine time and the operator by the hour.


Have you used the Zipcar service? How was the experience?

Would you be interested in a machine sharing approach in your operation?

Share this post