Zipcar and Fontinalis Bet $13.7M on Car-Sharing Startup Wheelz

2/22/12Follow @gthuang

The world of car-sharing just got more interesting. Zipcar (NASDAQ: ZIP), the Cambridge, MA-based pioneer in the sector, said today it has led a $13.7 million Series A investment in Wheelz, a Palo Alto, CA-based car-sharing startup that targets college students. Detroit-based Fontinalis Partners, a transportation tech investment firm, also participated in the round.

As part of the deal, Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith has joined the board of Wheelz, along with Mark Schulz, a founding partner at Fontinalis and longtime auto industry veteran (he was president for international operations at Ford). Zipcar, which went public last April, does not have majority ownership in Wheelz, according to the press release.

Griffith says in a statement that “interesting new mobility models and transportation-related technologies are emerging. This investment is our first step in the direction of potentially offering a broader array of mobility services.”

Wheelz is going after the college campus market using a peer-to-peer auto sharing model. The company, which is led by CEO Jeff Miller, rolled out its service at Stanford University last September. Wheelz is also rolling at UC Berkeley, USC, and UCLA.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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