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Shopping for the holidays has just been made easier with cars that are parked around Brooklyn for members to drive by the hour - instead of owning their own vehicles.

In June 2000, an American spin was put on a European idea: Zipcars were placed around key cities and neighborhoods for short-term auto rentals (car sharing) where people could drive cars by the hour - or day - on their terms. In June 2002, the company opened its first lot in Brooklyn.

Zipcar offers everything from MINI Coopers to Ford Escapes, which can really hold a lot of gifts. Gas, designated parking, maintenance, and XM Satellite radio are included in the hourly and daily rates.

"Customers first become members at a cost of $50 a year, along with the one time $25 application fee," Zipcar representative Kim Hamelburg told GO Brooklyn. Cars are reserved online or by telephone at rates that start at $8.50 an hour.

Customers then let themselves into the cars, which are parked in satellite lots throughout the city, using the Zipcard - cards similar to the safety devices used to enter office buildings. They return cars to the same locations, and charges are billed to credit cards already on file.

If you are looking to shop outside of Brooklyn, or if you’re just planning to head across town and load up with bulkier gifts or supplies for a holiday party, Zipcar might be your answer.

Zipcar has satellite parking lots in Cobble Hill, DUMBO, Flatbush, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope and Prospect Heights. For more information on lot locations and to reserve a Zipcar, e-mail, call (866) 4-ZIPCAR, or visit the Web site at

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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