Turo
Credit: Courtesy of Turo

Can Turo make a dent in our province’s market?

U.S. ride-sharing company Turo launched in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec four years ago. It later added Nova Scotia to the mix, but B.C. remained unconquered, despite the launch of a pilot program in 2017 and endless work with the provincial government and ICBC.

That long and winding road looks like it’ll come to a screeching halt when the San Francisco–headed operation finally adds B.C. to the list.

It’s a “matter of weeks” before Turo makes its debut here, says Cedric Mathieu, vice-president and head of Canada, thanks to the development of an insurance framework that will cover its unique model.

The company uses a peer-to-peer system whereby car owners lend their wheels to guests for a day rate (which varies by vehicle). After Turo’s 25-percent cut, hosts make about $620 a month. 

That’s a big reason why Turo believes it can succeed in the province when others in the ride-sharing business—most notably Car2go, which shuttered operations in B.C. in early 2020—have failed.

“We avoid all the heavy operational overhead that these other ones operate with: car purchasing, financing, maintenance, parking,” says Mathieu, who notes that Turo offers about 800 makes and models across North America.

“Other services are usually very standardized; you can only drive one or two different models,” he adds. “When you look at Turo, you can basically have any car—whatever is right for the occasion and the budget.”

That this is all happening now is, of course, interesting for a company that depends largely on tourism. Mathieu concedes that the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered Turo—the company reportedly had to lay off about 30 percent of its 250 or so employees—but he’s noticed some encouraging signs of late.

“We’ve seen an uptick in local trip, seen more people use Turo to get groceries and supplies, and essential workers using Turo to avoid taking public transpotation, which makes for a very interesting trend,” he says.

Whether that transfers to Vancouver is another question entirely.