Eighteen years ago, Modo introduced car sharing to Vancouver with just two vehicles on the road. Today, four companies serve the region with a fleet of approximately 2,000 vehicles.
“The Greater Vancouver area has 2 million people, we have about 2,000 cars. That’s big for a small city,” said Carsharing Association Executive Director Alan Woodland.
According to the Carsharing Association, which is holding an international conference in Vancouver this week, the North American market is expected to grow tenfold in the next four years from 25,000 vehicles to 250,000.
“A tenfold increase seems like a lot, but there are 300 million privately-owned cars and if we can just get even the tiniest fraction to join car sharing, we’ll have that tenfold growth we’re looking for,” said Woodland.
The growth is, for the most part, being seen in larger cities where a growing number of people choose to take advantage of a variety of transportation options.
“Car sharing seems to me now more essential than ever,” said Gordon Price of SFU’s The City Program. “But it has to be integrated. It has to be one choice among many–car, transit, cycling, walking.”
Woodland says there is a financial reason for joining a car share program.
“It’s young people not wanting to make a large investment in an asset which loses value over time,” said Woodland of privately-owned vehicles.
“It’s the lifestyle of not wanting to be behind the wheel when you’re going to and from work.”
Eighteen countries are represented at the conference, a sign that interest in car sharing is growing around the world.
“African cities are congested as well just like European cities,” said Ntando Kubheka of Locomute in South Africa. “Sustainability is top of the agenda in Africa as well. That’s why we are here.”
-With files from Linda Aylesworth