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Zipcar's initial public offering (IPO) earlier this month turned a concept – vehicles available for rent by the hour – into a $1.2 billion stock-market value, according to Barron's, America's so-called "premier" financial magazine. However, the car-sharing company, as we've pointed out before, is in the red. Despite that, Zipcar shares are currently trading for around $26, up substantially from the IPO price of $18. However, Barron's suggests that the future outlook for Zipcar is ske

Daimler's Car2go is expanding into Canada and Vancouver, British Columbia has been selected as the first city north of the border to launch the innovative car-sharing service. Additionally, Car2go Canada Ltd., a subsidiary of Daimler North America, will set up shop in Vancouver.

Despite its struggles – which you can read about here, here and here – Zipcar, one of the world's leading car sharing companies, has officially gone public.

Silicon Valley startup Getaround offers a carsharing service with a twist. Unlike companies like Zipcar, which owns the vehicles that are available for use by its members, Getaround is a peer-to-peer-based service that works like this: car owners agree to put their autos up for rent on an hourly, daily or even a weekly basis. The vehicle owners set the rental rates and Getaround simply pairs up what it calls the "buyers" with the "sellers."

Billionaire tycoon Vincent Bollore has committed to invest over 100 million euros ($131 million U.S. at the current exchange rate) into Autolib, Paris' electric carsharing program. The city's car-for-hire scheme is modeled after the successful, but often times problematic, Vélib bike-sharing program. Autolib is scheduled to kick off next fall and will allow area residents a chance to rent electric cars from one of the 700-plus soon-to-be installed stations.

Citroen C-Zero – Click above for high-res image gallery

2011 BMW M3 Frozen Gray Coupe – Click above for high-res image gallery

Daimler launched its Car2go program in its first North American city, Austin,TX back in May. Now, slightly more than four months later, the Car2go program has registered more than 10,000 eager carsharing members who have racked up more than 80,000 rentals in the downtown Austin area. Daimler chalks up the program's success to the numerous benefits that Car2go users experience, like on-demand rentals and one-way trip usage.

Zipcar, a car sharing service with more than 7,000 vehicles and 400,000 members across the U.S., is reaching out to a younger crowd by offering its services to under-21 drivers in the Cambridge, MA area. Zipcar, along with social rideshare partner Zimride, will double its on-campus fleet to 20 vehicles at Harvard University, while also expanding its service in the surrounding area by offering more than 160 cars off-campus.

Car sharing programs have steadily increased in popularity within the past few years and will likely see continued growth as we move forward. Paris hopes to cash in on some of the action by offering up the world's largest electric car share fleet. Paris' grand plan is an optimistic one, but it should prove to be well within reach.

Nissan Leaf – Click above for high-res image gallery

Image of the downtown area of Mount Vernon, New York

For people who don't need a car of their own but would like to have access to a ride now and again, car clubs (aka car sharing programs) can be a perfect solution. To join one of these car clubs, you typically pay a membership fee in addition to per use charges. Members reserve cars ahead of time and some clubs even offer up some pretty exotic rides.

Sharing cars in one way or another has grabbed quite a few headlines lately. From iPhone apps that help you line-up carpooling buddies to private companies that find vehicles available for use, several options exist to help you either find a ride or share your vehicle with someone else. All of these programs are great, but when it comes down to the simplest method of car sharing, handing the keys over to someone in return for cash, the law frowns.

Last month, Zipcar's annual Low-Car Diet saw 250 people in over a dozen cities trade in their personal car for a shared Zipcar and other transportation alternatives (bus, bike, walking). Zipcar surveyed the participants after the month-long trial and has released a few interesting numbers about what happened to those who went without a personal car for 30 days:

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