Zipcar eyes the senior set to rev up more revenue

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CAMBRIDGE — Already having handed over the car keys to university students — statistically among the adult population’s worst drivers — Scott Griffith may buckle Grandma behind the steering wheel.

Griffith’s Zipcar Inc. is one of 17 U.S. organizations that lease automobiles by the hour. Customers can reserve vehicles online, then pick them up at designated parking spaces and drop them back off when the meter is up.

Since replacing founder Robin Chase as chief executive in 2004, Griffith has devoted substantial attention to parking cars on college campuses. He said this week the firm is now considering situating cars in Florida and Arizona retirement communities.

The auto rental industry has long plodded along in second gear by relying on advertising campaigns to get the word out. Griffith and Chase instead have whipped Zipcar out into the fast lane through innovative promotions — such as the free lifts to the office it is currently offering San Francisco workers to hook them on its service.

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