AAA Washington, an organization best known for providing roadside assistance, is launching an app-based car-rental service in Seattle this spring, despite the closure last year of similar services in the region.
GIG Car Share, a branch within AAA Northern California, will start deploying cars in April with a goal of 250 Toyota Prius hybrid-electric cars on the streets in May.
Customers initially will pay 40 cents per minute or $15 per hour. No application or sign-up fees are required.
While drivers don’t have to be an AAA member to use the service, AAA members will receive a 10% discount on each trip. Gas, insurance and parking will be included in the price.
“We want people to have good options to get around without owning a car,” said Ethan Bergerson, a spokesman for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).
GIG customers can pick up and drop off cars at designated parking lots and streetside spots that permit parking for at least one hour within the so-called HomeZone, a geographic area that AAA and the city of Seattle will define by April.
GIG’s arrival comes just months after Lime shut down its LimePod car-rental program and ReachNow shuttered its car-rental and ride-hailing services.
Meanwhile, customers have largely flocked to ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft, which continue to grow in Seattle.
Jason Haight, president of GIG Car Share, said AAA’s call-center support and emergency roadside services will differentiate GIG from free-floating car-rental efforts that failed. Haight also noted that GIG uses less expensive cars equipped with bike racks.
GIG has operated in Oakland and Berkeley for three years and expanded to Sacramento last year. Combined, GIG has 65,000 members and a fleet of 750 cars in the three California cities.
Seattle was chosen as the next city to expand because of a “proven track record of demand,” Haight said. He also referenced Seattle’s declining rate of car ownership.
The city of Seattle charges car-rental companies annual fees for a permit to park the vehicles on city streets. GIG has not yet obtained a parking permit from Seattle, Bergerson said.