Expect more cars, new technology and a higher profile for the Victoria car-share market
The province’s longest-running car-sharing groups are set to merge, according to plans revealed Tuesday.
Modo, the Vancouver-based not-for-profit co-op, is due to link its fleet of 345 cars and 11,000 members with Victoria Car Share’s 23 vehicles and 800 members next spring.
“I’m so excited about the merge,” says Modo CEO Nathalie Baudoin, who recently joined the co-op that launched as the Co-operative Auto Network in 1997. “From a business standpoint, but also from a friend standpoint, our values are very similar, and it’s great to be able to work in Victoria.”
With international competition such as Car2Go (owned by Daimler/Mercedes) and Zipcar (owned by Avis) not currently in the British Columbian capital, both Modo and Victoria Car Share see the merger as a united push to boost awareness of local carsharing.
“The main focus of this is about having strong, co-operative, member-owned carsharing in Victoria,” says Tom Berkhout, chair of the board of directors of Victoria Car Share, which approached Modo after a business analysis earlier this year.
“They are going to be able to grow co-operative carsharing in Victoria faster than we will be able to on our own. We’re a break-even operation right now so it’s the economies of scale that they are able to gain. It might take us four years to do what they can probably do in the next year.”
The merger is set to bring in not only new cars and updated technology to the Victoria fleet, such as the fob system of opening the vehicles instead of a lockbox that’s currently used and an online sign-up for new members, but will also cover a larger area for members in both cities.
While Berkhout adds it’s not necessarily easy going from a locally driven membership to a regional one, he believes there is “tons of potential” in the Victoria marketplace. “I’m excited by the increased capacity to reach out to that potential and to grow carsharing as a viable option,” he comments, “and Modo is a solid organization.”
Baudoin adds that Modo saw an increase of 500 members last month and believes it is on course for its well-documented bid to double its members over the next three years, especially with this Victoria addition. It also reports a revenue growth of 20 per cent in each of the past three years.
“This is definitely a friendly way for us to grow,” Baudoin adds. “It’s not aggressive; it’s completely organic.”