It sounds like a job for Captain Obvious: Why not team the top car-sharing service, Zipcar, with Zimride, a leader among the growing number of startups trying to reinvent carpooling on the web? Both appeal to green-minded urban drivers, and they have worked to build a strong base on college campuses (get ’em while they’re young, the strategy goes). Well today, the two companies launched a new partnership, integrating their tools into one service. They’re starting the rollout at Stanford University and plan to expand to other college and company networks.
Here’s how it works: When you reserve a car on the Zipcar site, the confirmation page now includes a link to “share this ride.” That takes you to the Zimride interface (screen shot below), where you can enter in more details about your trip — where you’re heading, when you’ll return and whether this is a one-time deal or a regular commute. You can enter in a price per passenger (so they can help cover Zipcar’s hourly fee) and choose to make the ride visible only to others in your network (e.g. Stanford) or to other Zimride communities. If you’re new to Zimride, then clicking “Add Ride” takes you to a sign-up page that lets you log in with your Facebook account.
Today’s launch represents a next step for green social networking tools — taking them off the web and onto the road, where a real difference can be made in traffic congestion and emissions. Now they just have to refine the business model. Too bad Captain Obvious can’t help there.