Car-sharing startup Zipcar went public on Thursday and saw its shares rise 56 percent in the latest example of a strong recovery for the initial public offering market.

The shares started at $18 and closed at $28 today. In after-hours trading, the stock is up another 19 cents. The company raised more than $174 million by issuing 9.68 million shares in the IPO. The underwriters were Goldman Sachs Group and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. The amount raised was far above the company’s original estimate of $75 million.

The news bodes well for the future of car-sharing, which is an efficient way of getting around in crowded cities. With Zipcar, users can locate a car on the web, rent it, and then park it in a location where another user can pick it up. It’s more convenient than renting a traditional rental car and cheaper than owning one outright, since you don’t have to pay parking costs.

Zipcar’s early investors included Benchmark Capital, Greylock Partners, Smedvig Capital, and AOL founder Steve Case’s Revolution LLC. In June of 2010, Zipcar filed its first intentions for an IPO. Now the company has 560,000 users. For the year ended Dec. 31, 2010, Zipcar reported revenue of $186.1 million and a net loss of $14.12 million. Zipcar has thousands of cars in 14 cities and on more than 230 college and university campuses.

Rivals include RelayRides, GetAround, and Spride Share.


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