In its first decade, Vrtucar has grown from four friends sharing one car into a fleet of 70 vehicles driven by over 1,400 people and chief sharing officer Wilson Wood sees no reason why it can’t double over the next 10 years.
“The oldest car-share program in North America, in Quebec City, has 180 cars. I don’t see any reason why, over time, we can’t grow to have the same number,” said Wood, who is also president of the organization.
Similar organizations in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver have around 500 cars, said Wood.
The challenge for Ottawa is building focused demand outside the Greenbelt.
While Vrtucar has worked well in high-density areas like downtown Ottawa, demand is too spread out in Kanata, Orleans and Barrhaven to make it feasible.
“We need to find 75 users to put a three-car station out in Kanata,” said Wood. “We’ve had lots of people who have contacted us, but they are spread out all over the place.”
The organization marked its 10-year anniversary, which was technically on May 12, with a celebration at Minto Park yesterday.
Vrtucar works by havings members pay a monthly fee to have access to any car in the fleet. Cars can be booked on the Vrtucar website.
Wood said vehicles are usually booked for three to four hours. Members use cars an average of four times per month.
Instead of keys, members are given a fob that unlocks all the cars.
The organization pays for gas, insurance, maintenance and repair of cars, but members pay for the hours and the kilometres they use.
According to surveys conducted among users in car-sharing organizations, each shared car removes 10 private cars from city streets. Studies have also shown that people who car share reduce their CO2 output by as much as 1.2 tonnes per year.