Car2Go Vancouver. Click image to enlarge
By Greg Wilson
Vancouver, British Columbia – Starting in June, Vancouver, B.C., will be the first Canadian city to adopt the Car2go car-sharing program where registered users have access to any one of a fleet of 225 Smart Fortwo rental cars parked at various locations around the city.
Pioneered by Daimler, the Car2go program was launched in Ulm, Germany three years ago, and then a year later in Austin, Texas. To date, more than 35,000 users have joined the program in those cities registering 600,000 rentals averaging between 10 and 60 minutes. Car2go was also recently introduced in Hamburg, Germany and will begin in Amsterdam, Holland at the end of this year.
The Car2go program differs from other car-sharing programs, such as Zipcar, AutoShare in Toronto, CommuneAuto in Quebec, VRTUCAR in Ottawa, CarshareHFX in Halifax, and the Cooperative Auto Network in Vancouver, in three important ways: Car2go members can pay by the minute (if they prefer); Car2go members can pick up the car in one location and drop it off in another location rather than having to return it to the original location; and Car2go’s pick-up and drop-off points include residential streets with “Permit Only” signs as well as dedicated Car2go parking spots.
In Vancouver, Car2go cars can be picked up and dropped off anywhere within a 47-square-kilometre area at any available “Permit Only” street parking spot, or in one of specially marked Car2go parking spaces. A quick search of Vancouver’s Car2go web site found a total of 26 dedicated Car2go parking spots: eight spots in the downtown business area, four spots in the residential West End, two in Coal Harbour, two on Granville Island, two in Kitsilano, and eight in False Creek South. But in residential areas (including some areas of the West End) Car2go vehicles can be parked on any street where there’s a “Permit Only” sign, parking that is normally reserved for residents of that area.
To find an available car, Car2go members access their smart phone Car2go apps or the Car2go web site which shows where available cars are on a map. Reservations can be up to 24 hours in advance. Cars can also be located using the telephone hotline. Cars don’t have to be reserved in advance: any car showing a green light in the windshield is available (a yellow light means ‘Reserved’ and a red light means ‘Not Available’.) Members just hold their member card up to the reader and the door will unlock. Once inside, the member enters their PIN and confirms that the car is not damaged by pressing buttons on a touch-screen. The key is inserted and the car can be started.
Smart Car2Go in Austin, Texas. Click image to enlarge
Car2go drivers are charged for the actual time they use the vehicle, even if it’s only a few minutes. Rental prices in Vancouver are 35 cents per minute (plus tax), $12.99 per hour (22 cents per minute), and $65.99 per day (4.6 cents a minute) – that includes gas, parking, insurance, maintenance, mileage, cleaning, GPS navigation, roadside assistance, and a 24/7 customer support hotline. Trips over 200 km are charged 45 cents per minute (per trip). New members pay a one-time $35 (plus HST) registration fee, but there are no annual or monthly fees.
To encourage new members, the Vancouver Car2go program is waiving the initial $35 registration fee for Vancouver residents until May 29th. (Register at Car2GoVancouver.com using promo code VAN, or in person at the Car2go office at 45 Water Street in Gastown.)