standard Brooklyn Car-Sharing Site “Carpingo” Battles a Default Bias for National Chains

Gil Cygler, CEO of Carpingo (Photo by Matthew Taub)

Gil Cygler, CEO of Carpingo (Photo by Matthew Taub)

A local car-sharing company with neighborhood employees and affordable rates. Pick-up and drop-off centers throughout the borough, serving the middle class along with more well-heeled clientele. The same amenities as Zipcar, minus any annual fees.

With all this to offer, why can’t Brooklyn-bred “Carpingo” get an audience with certain parking lot owners around town?

Photo by Matthew Taub

Photo by Matthew Taub

“I’ve talked to so many property managers,” said Gil Cygler, the company’s CEO. “I can’t tell you how many say, ‘I’d love to put your cars in our lot, but we’re restricted to a national chain, or we already have an agreement with them.'”

The company is an off-shoot of All-Car Rent-a-Car, a Canarsie repair shop and car rental company founded by Cygler’s father thirty five years ago. As the family watched the rise of the sharing economy, they decided to launch their own car-sharing subsidiary in 2012, catering to Brooklyn’s more moderate income residents and transit-starved areas. The company has since gained popularity across the borough.

“Business is booming. The current fleet of cars now live in about sixty different parking garages and driveways throughout Brooklyn and Long Island City,” Cygler said. “And drivers can take the vehicles wherever they’d like. Last week I was driving on the Garden State Parkway, and next to me was a Carpingo car.”

Without naming specific property owners, Cygler cited a few recent interactions where he was told “we only work with national chains,” the implication being that these larger companies had the influence to edge out local and regional upstarts.

Photo by Matthew Taub

Photo by Matthew Taub

“We just want a level playing field,” Cygler said. “No market should be dominated to the exclusion of any other competitors. And competition is always good. Some of the local competitors like us are about ten to twenty percent cheaper. Tell me the rate of the national chain, and I bet we can match it, or go lower. Or have us coexist in the same lot, and see what comes of it. But in many cases, we’re not even offered that chance.”

Carpingo cars skew toward the compact (based on client preference), but larger vehicles such as minivans, cargo vans, and SUVs are also available.