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COMMUNAUTO : the car-sharing boom in Canada

4. Environment

Sustainable mobility


On average, we use cars less than 5% of the time. Car sharing is growing in our cities because it is a cheaper alternative than buying a vehicle and more flexible than renting. Founded in 1994, Communauto is a pioneer in America, as manager of the oldest and one of the largest car-sharing services in America as well as in the world.


Reduce both the number and use of cars, ensuring optimal use of each vehicle and to complement other modes of collective and active transport.


1-Genesis: In 1994, in Quebec City, Communauto began its business under the nameAuto-Com, and as a consumer cooperative involving fifteen users who share 3 cars. Given its success, the service was duplicated in Montreal in 1995. In 1997, the organisation became a company and in early 2000 the company was officially named "Communauto."

2 – the idea:

How it works: users with a subscription have access to a fleet of vehicles, scattered throughout the city, self-service, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for reservations from half an hour up to 30 days. To cover the costs of operating a vehicle, including maintenance, insurance and gasoline, the subscriber pays (via a monthly bill) a cost proportional to usage from $ 1.76 / h or $ 19.36 / day in addition to $ 0.37 / km. Packages are available for fares that best suit usage.

Fleet: Communauto manages a fleet of 1100 Toyota Echo or Yaris models plus 50 Nissan Leaf electric cars. Every car is subject to a rigorous maintenance plan.

3 - Development:

- Protection of the concept: the creation in 2011 of "CarSharing Association" comprised of 18 car-sharing companies from around the world. The association aims to set environmental, ethical and social standards of this new industry to clarify the positioning of the service vis-à-vis the local public authorities.

- Person to Person renting: Communauto has launched a pilot project for private renting to optimize the use of each vehicle, enabling further additional income to renter on the basis of: $ 1.67 / hour or $ 20 / day + $ 0.10 / km. NB: Canadian $1 = 0.74€

- Launch of self-service for spontaneous users. Communauto wants to start a service without any prior reservation or obligation to return the vehicle to its starting point. The service would be a bit more expensive: 35 ¢ / min but more flexible. To open the doors and start the engine, a public transit membership card is enough.


- Increase in number of subscribers and vehicles: 1994: 15 subscribers / 3 vehicles; 2000: 1928 subscribers / 116 veh. , 2010: 22 670 subscribers; 1100 veh.
- Potential subscribers estimated at 139,000, or about 8% of households in the Montreal area and Quebec.
- 335% + revenue growth from 2002 to 2007: recognized in 2007 in Quebec as one of the top 20 most performing companies. Nominated in 2008 and 2009 in Quebec as a finalist for the competition 50 best managed Canadian companies.
- Geographical extension in Canada


- Each car sharing vehicle replaces eight private vehicles = 9,600 vehicles off the road.
- Car sharing reduces about 30-40% of mileage => reduction in emissions of 1.2 tonnes of CO2/user/year = 60% less per person / year. 139 000 subscribers would save 168,000 tons of C02 = 5.6 times the target Quebec in 2012.
- Reduced need for parking spaces in cities.



Benoît ROBERT, Speaker au World Forum Lille 2011

Mise à jour le 23/05/2016

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