Started as a low-cost service for Toronto's lower-income and immigrant population, AutoShare has found a foothold with middle-class residents who joined for the convenience and savings of ditching a personal vehicle
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AutoShare president Kevin McLaughlin, with one of his company’s vehicles in May of 2013, believes he’s part of a transportation revolution. ‘The definition between public transit and private car ownership is going to get a lot more blurred,’ he says. ‘Car sharing – the idea of renting a car for a period of time and going places – is going to be an important part of that.’
Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail
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Autoshare offers members a variety of different vehicles to use, making oft-dreaded trips to IKEA a breeze. The service began in Toronto with three cars and 16 members, who each paid a $500 insurance-and-membership deposit. Today, membership fees are $29; AutoShare has gone to great lengths to negotiate down insurance and other costs.
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Included in Autoshare’s fleet are several Nissan Leaf electric cars, which have a range of 75 kilometres.
Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail
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Planning to move? Autoshare members have access to cargo vans to make that process easier, too.
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Zipcar was the first major challenger in Toronto to AutoShare’s market share. The global leader came to the city in 2006 and brought nearly 150 cars, forcing AutoShare to spread itself thin with expenditures. (Zipcar was then independent, but is now owned by Avis Budget Group Inc.)
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Daimler AG’s car2go has also joined the traffic in Toronto with its blue-and-white fleet of Smart Fortwo cars, which can be picked up and dropped off at different locations, as opposed to AutoShare and Zipcar’s designated parking spots.
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This year, Autoshare held a promotion for a group of 21- to 27-year-olds called #under27, giving them the chance to take several Autoshare trips over three months as they documented their adventures on social media, showing different ways people can use the company’s memberships.
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Some #under27 participants scoped out the sights of Toronto.
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Musicians use an Autoshare truck to get their gear around town.