Case purchases majority stake in Flexcar

Wednesday, August 31st 2005, 2:50 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Steve Case, the co-founder of America Online Inc., said Wednesday that his investment firm has purchased a majority stake in Flexcar and plans to embark on a major expansion for the car-sharing business.

Case said he hopes to increase Flexcar's customer base to 1 million and its fleet to 20,000 vehicles in five years. The Seattle-based company currently operates 450 cars in six cities _ Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Washington and Portland, Ore.

``Car-sharing is poised for explosive growth, as it enables consumers to save on the expense and hassle of car ownership, while reducing traffic and pollution,'' Case said. He did not disclose the amount of his investment, which was made through his Washington-based firm, Revolution LLC.

Case said his investment would help Flexcar quickly add more vehicles to existing locations and expand into new markets such as New York, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Austin, Texas, by the end of 2006.

Lee Iacocca, former chairman and chief executive of Chrysler Corp., will serve as a senior adviser to the company and take a seat on its board of directors.

A personal Flexcar membership costs $40 a year and consumers can reserve a vehicle, located in a neighborhood parking lot, for $7 to $10 per hour and $35 to $90 per day. Consumers pay for the hours they use the vehicles and the rate is all-inclusive, covering gasoline and insurance.