Trend Watch: Recession giving Zipcar new appeal

How does one know when a commerce phenomenon is more than just a passing fad and has become a trend? When it's accepted by a segment of society? No, when a cross-section -- old / young / rich / not-so-rich -- are accessing the service or product. Zipcar, which "shares" (or rents) cars by the hour, may be becoming a trend. Essentially, Zipcar is applying the time-share concept to automobile use, creating the car-share.

An electronic, digitalized access system allows customers to rent a Zipcar for a few hours or for the whole day, with gas and insurance included in the price. Cars are scattered all over the car-share markets, in areas convenient for customers to pick them up or drop them off. The service is currently offered in more than 50 cities and 100 campuses in North America and the United Kingdom.