VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Car companies aiming to stay profitable in the long term are putting in place plans to sell not just more cars, but “mobility solutions.”
Car sharing in Vancouver has enjoyed rapid growth since its introduction in 2011, becoming earlier this year the first city of 29 around the world to reach 100,000 Car2go subscribers.
“Many people are looking for mobility solutions,” says Smart brand head Annette Winkler, and the Car2Go sharing service is an example of how the Smart brand can provide them.
“Smart wants to be more than a car,” she says.
Other automakers are following. Toyota and ride-hailing company Uber have announced a partnership. General Motors has bought Lyft for its ride-sharing technology. Ford has bought software company Pivotal as part of its Smart Mobility initiative. Volkswagen has a new partner in Israeli-based taxi startup Gett.
Vancouver, Canada’s third-largest city, illustrates how the auto industry’s growing commitment to mobility is being embraced. Residents here have taken to car sharing in huge numbers, giving a boost to Vancouver’s goal to become the world’s “greenest” city.
Vancouver’s experience is instructive for the industry, as an explosion in ride-sharing services -- more correctly, short-term rentals -- makes car ownership unnecessary for many.
In the city’s most recent transportation survey (2015), 26 per cent of Vancouver residents had a car-sharing membership, up from 20 per cent in 2014 and 13 per cent in 2013.
Chris Iuvancigh, general manager of Daimler-owned Car2Go in Vancouver, says tight urban spaces and high real estate costs in the coastal city make ride-sharing services particularly attractive.
Pricing and convenience explain why this transportation alternative has taken off in Vancouver after just five years. Car2Go offers one-way car sharing throughout this compact city of just 70 square kilometres, starting at 41 cents a/minute.