As of this month, Vancouver is officially home to the largest fleet of Car2go smart cars in North America with more than 700 of the Mercedes vehicles dotting roads and parking lots.
But it isn’t the only company reaping from Vancouverites’ growing desires not to drive their own cars.
Representatives from the city’s three car sharing services, Car2go, Modo and Zipcar, all say business is great in the city they say has the perfect car sharing trifecta of density, lack of affordability and environmental friendliness.
Car sharing started on the beach
Car sharing has come a long way since Modo started the world’s first English-speaking car share in the West End 17 years ago with a cooperative of two cars and 16 people.
“In the beginning, it was an ideological choice. People believed very strongly in reducing their environmental impact,” said Modo’s marketing director Hilary Henegar.
Nowadays members are price conscious and want to reduce hassle, she said. There is no “typical” user – their growing membership (Modo is even about to get a wheelchair accessible van) ranges from 19 year olds to seniors.
Despite Car2go’s ubiquitous nature, Modo sees it as a complimentary service instead of direct competition.
“Car2go placing 500 cars on the streets in one day does a lot to mainstream it,” Henegar said. “Our competition is the private vehicle.”
Modo provides a range of vehicles and accessories for longer trips with cargo, including minivans and bike racks. The tiny cars “feel a bit like a toy,” so they’re not ideal for longer trips.
Which car sharing service suits you?
- Two-way trips
- 310 vehicles
- 10,000 members
- $20 registration fee
- $3 – $7.50 cost per hour
- $5 monthly fee or $500 refundable shares purchase
“We’re member owned and not for profit,” Henegar said, adding the sense of ownership means people respect the cars like their own. “Our goal is to make it as affordable for members as possible.”
- one-way trips
- 700 vehicles
- 40,000 members
- $35 registration fee
- $0.41 per minute
- $0 monthly fee
“You can just walk up to us and take the car,” Iuvancigh said. “You can it from downtown, leave it in Kits and you’re billed by the minute.”
- City-by-city fleet and membership numbers are secret
- Two-way trips
- $25 registration fee
- $7.43 – $8.25 per hour
- $6 monthly fee or $65 annual fee
“We’re a global company, the largest in the world,” Pribula said, noting members get access to the entire fleet in 27 major cities. “The car variety and the car newness, that quality is what people are really attracted to.”