Earlier this year, Vancouverites were blindsided by the sudden exodus of car sharing companies citing operational complexities as the reason for their exit. Even though Vancouver was the car-sharing capital of North America, it seemed that a strong user base and a high volume of trips wasn’t enough to make the business work.
This was all before the global pandemic halted everything and so when work and life commutes came to a drastic slowdown, B.C. seemed like an impossible home to any future car sharing service.
Most car sharing companies would have easily disregarded BC and labelled the province as a dead zone for the time being. But that didn’t stop Turo, a global peer-to-peer car sharing platform, from creating its own space and launching a service that has seen exponential growth since. Launched at the height of a global pandemic, B.C. has proven itself in just a few months to be our fastest growing market across Canada despite all the supposed setbacks. How? It was the following factors that culminated in a perfect storm.
Fleet-based model cannot compete in the ever-evolving mobility market
The former purveyors of carsharing services depended heavily on fleets to power their operations. This comes with a need for continuous capital and resources to keep up with high fixed costs that is becoming incredibly challenging to manage when facing heavy swings in demand.
Instead of putting resources into managing and upkeep the fleet, paying out of pocket expenses like insurance, parking permits and telematics devices, true P2P car sharing operates by tapping into car owners and simply connecting them to people who need cars. And unlike fleet-based car sharing, options available – type of cars and coverage areas – is more diverse and of abundance.
Affordability in a time of crisis
There is no doubt that unaffordability is an ongoing issue faced by many British Columbians. The pandemic has added to this and British Columbians now need to tighten their belts more to make ends meet. This means looking for new ways to save money and earn extra cash on the side.
The sharing economy thrives in this scenario, satisfying both ends of the spectrum – those looking to save and those looking to make money. Turo, a P2P car sharing platform, created the haven for car owners to create another stream of income and gave those looking for short-term vehicles a wide range of options at the click of a button.
Changes in the public’s transportation perception due to COVID
COVID-19 has brought on many changes including the way we interact with public transportation. Amidst the uncertainty, many shied away from taking public transit, rethinking their day to day travel, or even completely eliminating unnecessary travel by working from home or shopping local for essential goods.
While public transit ridership began to recover following a few restriction lifts in Metro Vancouver it never returned to the pre-COVID levels. It was becoming apparent British Columbians were looking to adopt new ways of travel that were reliable, convenient and most importantly safe. Carsharing became an exceedingly attractive option for those looking to travel in the safety of their COVID-friendly
Through the launch of Turo during the pandemic, we learned that while timing matters, having the right business model was critical. And within that, our agility and adaptability played a big role. In a climate where the unpredictable is even more unpredictable, it’ll be the companies that are able to pivot quickly, with the most flexible business model and data-backed decision making that will ultimately