Car-sharing services in Vancouver

En francais plus bas

My story:

So I’ve been living in Vancouver for almost two years now. And from time to time I feel the need of a car. There are things and activities that one can’t do (or with difficulty) without a car: Big grocery shopping, trips to IKEA, trips to the local mountains, trips to Richmond :D…
Owning a car when you don’t use it often (less than twice a week) can be very expensive. Not including the loan (if you don’t buy it cash) you have to pay for insurance (which is crazy in British Columbia), maintenance, parking, gas and of course you loose money with the depreciation of the vehicle. When you own a car you tend to consider yourself free but this freedom has a price. Usually car owners pay between $500 to $1000 a month (sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the car).

So for people who live in Vancouver, Canada there as far as I know two alternatives to owning a car:

They are both membership based and you have to pay a small setup-fee to join ($20 for co-op, $25 for Zipcar).

I listed the differences between the two options in the table below.

Zipcar Co-op
Cost to join
  • $25 application fee
  • $55 annual fee on the occasional driving plan. No annual fee on the extra value plans
  • $20 non-refundable registration fee
  • $500 refundable deposit. You get that back when you leave provided that you committed for at least 6 months. A 3% surcharge applies if you pay by credit card.
Joining process Both require a driving history and claims record from ICBC. Zipcar doesn’t require a BC Driver’s License. That means foreign licenses are accepted and depending on the country of origin a notarized English translation of your driving record from that country is required. The Co-op requires holders of foreign licenses to get their BC Driver’s License within a month after joining.
  • Hourly rate from: $9.75
  • Daily rate from: $69

The rates depend on the time (weekday, weekend) and on the car you book.
If you are on the extra value plan you get 10% off on each booking.
Extra value plans involve a monthly commitment (50, 75, 125 or $250) and you get as much in driving credit + 10% off on each booking. On some plans you can rollover your credit to the following months.
150 km per day are included in each reservation. additional kilometer charges apply if you go over.

  • Hourly rate (flat rate): $2.50
  • Daily rate (flat rate): $30.00

Depending on your usage you get a monthly fee + kilometer charges

  • High usage (+251 km): $40 monthly fee, 18¢ per km driven
  • Moderate usage (81- 250 km): $15 monthly fee, 28¢ per km driven
  • Low usage (1- 81 km): $6.25 monthly fee, 38¢ per km driven
  • No usage (0 km): No charge

There is no surcharge for bigger vehicles, no surcharge on week-ends and the hourly rate doesn’t apply between 11 PM and 7 AM.

Gas Gas is included for both but Zipcar provides a gas card (only usable at Esso stations). The Co-op reimburses your gas expenses (they deduct gas expenses in your monthly bill)
Parking Parking is included for both and there are usually lots of cars in your neighborhood. For Co-op cars you are allowed to park in stalls that show “only with permit” in the city of Vancouver only
Access to cars An RFID card and gives you access to all the cars in the fleet during your booking. You scan it on the reader located on the windshield and you’re ready to roll. VERY convenient A fob has been recently introduced and unlocks the ignition. So same thing you scan your fob on the reader located on the windshield and it unlocks the driver’s door and the ignition. You still need to get the key from the lockbox at the back though. A lockbox key is provided along with a fob when you join. The cool thing is that if you forget something in the car you can always go back anytime and get it
Booking system
  • Online: Very well designed user interface
  • Mobile: A mobile version of the booking system. Very convenient if you need to extend your reservation
  • Phone: Automated: free. Assisted (with the help of a representative): A surcharge applies
  • Online: Poorly designed user interface
  • Phone
Insurance Insurance is included but you may have to pay a $500 deductible if you are in an at-fault (or no fault determined) accident. You can buy a damage waiver to decrease or eliminate the deductible (waivers are valid for a year). Insurance is included but you may have to pay a $500 deductible if you are in an at-fault accident. You can use your credit card Loss and Damage Waiver insurance to cover that.

The Co-op network now has a non-membership based offer comparable to Zipcar where they charge the car by the hour with a limit of 150 km per day + annual fee. More info here

A Zipcar member can use each and every car in the fleet everywhere Zipcar operates (many cities in the US and London, UK). Very convenient when traveling abroad. Co-op has an agreement with Victoria Car Share (Victoria, BC) and City Car Share (San Francisco, CA).

Zipcar and Co-op both allow you to cross the US-Canada border without any special clearance.

So who is the winner ? Well Zipcar is definitely more expensive than Co-op. I personally am a member of both but I use Co-op more often since it’s cheaper. I like the idea of being able to use cars in other cities and I also use Zipcar for longer periods of time (usually a day).

Pour ceux qui habitent au Québec ou à Paris il y a aussi plusieurs alternatives
CommunAuto (Montréal/Québec/Gatineau/Sherbrooke)
Caisse Commune, Carbox, mobizen, Okigo et Connect By Hertz (Paris)