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Car sharing and Communauto

04 October 2011
Car sharing and Communauto

By Robin Haycock, Head of Transport, The Climate Group.

October 4, 2011. 

So what’s interesting about car sharing?

Our man in Quebec again… about to go out on Montreal’s rental bike scheme for some sightseeing,  but couldn’t resist passing on some exciting facts about car rental schemes and Communauto who are a major player here.

They have a social, urban and environmental mission so it was great to meet up with the enthusiastic Marco Vivani who turned up at Hydro Quebec’s offices not in a one of his car sharing cars, but a bicycle… top man.

I could go into detail, but if you want more, go look at their website, Key is the fact that they now have a load of Nissan Leafs integrated into their vehicles fleets, and have the first feedback of data from their members. And boy is it interesting.

For a start, this model is probably one of the best ‘sweet spots’ for EVs you could get.  The cars are typically utilised 11 hours a day and travel about 80km, with Communauto owning them for 5 or 6 years.

When The Climate Group looked into total cost of ownership, we identified that going from 3 years lease to 5 or 6 was a major benefit, and using the vehicles to the max mileage in a day was the best way of balancing out the purchase price, so comparing this with personal ownership is fascinating.

We typically drive 20km in a day, and cars are utilised for about one hour; go do the maths.

Marco seized the opportunity – even before the continuous rise in gasoline and diesel prices  – so he can price the car just like any other car in his fleet, and therefore offer it at no cost addition, which is important, and the demand is high.

Feedback is incredibly positive so far but it is early days.

Not quite EV related, but definitely fitting into our wider work on sustainable mobility is the other killer fact I gleaned from 2 hours with this guy.

Historically we have bought cars as aspirational items where the car companies have sold us freedom. Time is running out for this dream when we look at 4x4s stuck in traffic and nowhere to park.

One killer fact that he put up without even thinking too hard about, was that 78% of their members have degrees and are highly educated. I am not going to go into a debate about intelligence and qualifications, but I do think there may be a correlation between the intelligent end of society starting to realise that:

They don’t need to express their status in society through a car
They are fed up with finding parking spaces
They have worked out that owning a car is costly and a waste of time if you only use it one hour a day

That there is serious green credentials to be had from not owning a car at all

Modal shift is up and total distance travelled by car is down in all participants that went from owning to car share, time was freed up… I could go on, but there are some serious social changes going on here and it could be the start of a mega trend.

I’m excited for our future today. And now I’m off to rent a bike for the day.

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