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The nation's biggest car-sharing service, Zipcar, just keeps on getting bigger. This week, Zipcar announced it would now offer short-term car rentals on 36 new higher education schools in North America, trying to capture the use-don't-own spirit of today's young people. The company's new Facebook reservation service (which supplements the existing smartphone reservation apps) speaks to this. All told, Zipcars are now available on over 250 higher education campuses in North America (see the full

Volkswagen is adding an option called Quicar Plus to its Quicar car sharing project that will kick off in Hanover, Germany this November. Apart from longer usage times, Quicar Plus features additional VW vehicles such as the Up!, Beetle, Passat, and Golf cabriolet.

Last week, Zipcar announced a move that will almost surely appeal to its outdoorsy customers. With sunny days ahead, Zipcar plans to tap into the need for exercise and open-air recreation by adding some complimentary items to 20 of its Ford Escapes in New York City.

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

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.

In March, a company by the name of Zen Car will launch an electric vehicle car sharing scheme in the city of Brussels, Belgium. Zen Car says that 29 plug-ins will hit the streets and fifteen charging stations will pop up throughout the city to support the electric fleet. Membership costs are pegged at 40 euros ($55 U.S. at the current exchange rate), plus 6 euros ($8 U.S) a month and 7 euros ($10 U.S.) per hour spent behind the wheel.

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.

The Move About car sharing program in Oslo, Norway is growing at at steady clip. Launched in late 2008, the program provides drivers with access to electric vehicles (EVs) for short jaunts around town. Move About's members, which hit 1,000 strong just days ago, share 80 battery-powered vehicles, of which 79 are Think City electrics, a highway-capable EV (well, it can hit 68 miles per hour) that offers up to 100 miles of range per charge.

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.

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.

car2go, Daimler's car sharing program that has been operating in Ulm, Germany, has announced that it has added the State of Texas to its pilot program. Under the pilot program, state employees will have access to the car sharing network as well as special reserved parking spaces at the Capitol Complex.

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