As roads become more congested, cities denser and parking at more and more of a premium in cities, Canadians are continuing to spend more time with alternative means of transportation; buses, bikes, LRTs, taxis and the newest: car sharing services.
Indeed, it seems like your car sharing options are growing by the minute. So much so that it’s becoming almost overwhelming. And, since they require subscription prices, it’s good to know which one is right for you.
When a little company in Austin, TX teams up with a big—BIG—company out of Stuttgart, Germany, well, there’s bound to be some fireworks.
That’s why you’re seeing so many Smart ForTwos in the distinctive white and blue colour schemes of the world’s largest car sharing service. In Canada, Car2Go operates in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver and a handful more cities in the US. The best part? If you have a Car2Go membership based out of, say, Toronto, you can roll into Vancouver (or Brooklyn or Miami or…) and there will likely be a car for you.
Reserving the cars is a cinch, made even easier this year by a switch to an all-app service. That means you don’t even need a Car2Go member card (membership costs just over $2 in some parts of Canada; for Ontarians, it’s free) taking up a spot in your wallet. Just tap on the app that leads to a map of your area, the nearest cars marked with a blue blip, then tap on the one you want, and the reservation is yours, as long as you get to the car within thirty minutes. Car2Go is mainly operates within the city limits, but the Vancouver service, for example, allows you to leave the cars at the airport for a surcharge.
Typically, there’s a $35 registration fee, but that’s often waived as Car2Go tends to run promos at local events where, if you sign up on the spot, you’re only subject to the $2 annual fee. You may even get awarded some free minutes!
Otherwise, it’s a $0.41/minute rate, unless you drive over 200 km on a single rental (unlikely), whether you’re in a ForTwo microcar or one of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class cars that are currently undergoing a trial run. The parking system varies; in Vancouver, for example, your Car2Go can be left almost anywhere within the home area, as long as it’s not a metered space. In Toronto, they need to be left in pre-approved parking spots.
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The B-Classes were likely brought on as a response to the British Columbia Automobile Association–operated EVO service, which for the time being is only operating in BC. Instead of little Smarts, EVO operates a fleet of Toyota Prius C hatches, which, in addition to back seats, also feature roof racks.
EVO actually costs less ($0.41/min) than Car2Go and they also offer hourly and daily rates ($14.99/hr, $89.99/day), since the features they provide allow them to be used for longer trips with numerous passengers.
Like Car2Go, bookings are on a first come, first serve basis; open the app, check the map to see what’s in your area, click and reserve. Again, you get a 30-minute grace period.
While EVO operates only in Vancouver, AutoShare operates only out of Toronto, but it’s a little different from both Car2Go and EVO in that it only has hourly rates, and you have to pay either annual or monthly fees depending on which program you opt for: Simple, Metro and Metro Plus, depending on whether you want to pay an annual fee for the Simple program ($45), or a monthly fee for the other two. While insurance is covered as part of your subscription for Car2Go and EVO, but with AutoShare, you have to ensure that either your credit card covers you for car sharing, or pay an extra $65/year for AutoShare’s insurance.
The cars are the big story here, though; everything from Minis to Micras and BMWs to Outbacks can be rented, for fees ranging $8.25 to $12.25/hr, with daily rates, too. And the vehicles can be brought over the border, as long as you return them to the exact spot they came from in the first place.
Like the other two, reservations can be made via app or by phone.
Zipcar was one of the earliest in the game, and it has helped grow the brand to worldwide levels. And yes, if you have a “Zipcard” – your membership card – you can use it anywhere there are Zipcars. Like AutoShare, Zipcars are more “long-form” than are Car2Go or EVO; they can be taken across borders, kept for the weekend, and used for all manner of activities.
They have the car styles to back up the claim; Jeep Compasses, Kia Rondos, Hyundai Accents and even Ford Transit vans are all available, all easily found via the app, which actually list which cars are where.
Like CarShare, Zipcar offers monthly rates, but adds what they call “occasional” driving plans, but they are billed hourly, starting at $7.75/hr or $76/day. The rate fluctuates depending on which vehicle you select.
Like CarShare, Zipcars have to be returned to the spot they were originally taken from, so be sure to plan your reservation accordingly. Also, unlike Car2Go, for example, the cars must be booked in advance; you can’t just roll up to one, swipe your card, and be on your way.
Also of the long-form variety, MODO has a variety of vehicles, from sedans to pickups to minivans; in fact, of all the services on this list, it’s the only one that has minivans available, and they include nice, all-new Kia Sedonas, too.
Cars have to be booked in advance via the app or website (no walk-ups allowed), and cars can be booked for up to 30 days (there’s a 200-km limit, with charge applying afterwards), so they can be taken on road trips. They do, however, have to be returned to the spot they started from. Prices range from $8 an hour to $64 daily and overnight charges are capped at $24.
What’s interesting about MODO is that if you’re a small business owner, you can include employees on the same plan, and cars can be booked for $7/hr.