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XM signs deal with car-sharing company

Satellite radio service will be available to Zipcar customers free of charge.

XM Satellite Radio is adding some zip to its drive to get into more cars.

The company has signed a deal with Zipcar in which the car-sharing company will install XM receivers in its vehicles in the Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., metropolitan areas. The satellite radio service, which unlike AM and FM bands requires subscriptions, will be available to drivers of those cars at no charge.

In December, XM reached a similar agreement with Vanguard , which operates National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car. Five-year-old Zipcar offers a variation on renting automobiles, providing 24-hour self-service access to its vehicles. It's now in eight states and 21 cities and plans further expansion to metropolitan areas and university settings nationwide.

The Zipcar deal is just the latest in a string of agreements that XM and rival Sirius Satellite Radio have reached with automobile companies in recent months. In March, for instance, Hyundai Motor said it plans to make XM gear standard on all U.S. models by 2007, while Sirius announced deals with Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. On Monday, XM teamed up with America Online to create an online radio service.

XM has a larger share of the nascent satellite radio market, with about 3.8 million subscribers, compared with 1.2 million for Sirius. Both need more in order to start turning profits. Each charges about $13 a month for providing access to dozens of audio channels.