Come Saturday, you’ll be seeing a lot more white cars on the road in Toronto with decals displaying the name “Communauto FLEX.”
The service is the latest name in Toronto’s car-sharing industry.
“It’s one of those wonderful words that’s probably going to morph and change and people will turn it into whatever they want,” said the Montreal-based company’s Ontario director Wilson Wood.
“The etymology of it is ‘comme un auto,’ which means, ‘like a car (in French).’ So it’s like your own car. But it’s not. It’s a shared car.”
The service already operates in multiple cities across Canada, and so far is the only one signed onto the city of Toronto’s new free-floating car-sharing pilot project. That means that unlike other services, you won’t have to park the car where you picked it up.
“There’s places where we’re allowed to park and places where we’re not allowed to park,” Wood said.
“We’re allowed in residential permit areas where there might be some parking restrictions but it is permit-exempt, so we can park with the car-sharing permit that’s on the windshield of the car.”
Customers can drive the cars anywhere, but can only leave them in spots designated for permitted parking within a 50-square kilometre service area, bound by Kennedy Road in the west, Victoria Park Avenue in the east. The zone has a few excluded areas where the demand for residential parking permits exceeds availability.
City council approved the 18-month trial phase in April, which will allow for a maximum of 2,000 permits in total and 500 vehicles per car-booking company. Communauto hopes to help fill the void left behind when Car2Go left Toronto earlier this year claiming the pilot is too restrictive. But with 200 cars to start, Communauto has a much smaller fleet for a big market.
“We’re starting off with this,” Wilson said. “But certainly it’s our intention to go to the 500 cars that are allowed in the permit. Which I understand is more than (Car2Go) ever had.”
Expansion of their fleet and zone will depend on a green light from city officials based on feedback given to them by customers and others affected by the pilot. There is still room for multiple other services to sign on to the pilot project.
VIDEO: Car2Go drives away from Toronto, cites over-regulation
Booking a Communauto car will cost customers $0.41 cents a minute; $15 dollars an hour; $50 for the first day and $35 for each extra day.
It will also cost a quarter for every kilometre racked up after 150.
Gas costs are included, and a launch promo will provide customers’ first 30 minutes for free.
—With files from David Shum