Car sharing in Toronto: AutoShare vs. car2go vs. Zipcar
Car sharing in Toronto is suddenly an industry with a wealth of options (as long as you consider "three" a wealth of options). With car2go arriving on the Toronto scene not too long ago, casual drivers now have an another alternative shaking up the former AutoShare/Zipcar duopoly. But does it really offer a better option? Well, that depends on what you're looking for. If you need a car for a move or delivery, the smart fortwo cars in car2go's fleet probably won't cut it. But if you're a bit of a commitment-phobe and are also anti-annual fee (and in this you could benefit from by-the-minute billing), this new car sharing option might be worth a second glance. Here's a breakdown of how the three companies compare.
TYPES OF VEHICLES
AutoShare: There are a couple dozen different models to be found here. AutoShare offers electrics, hybrids, hatchbacks, sedans, and cargo vehicles for moves and extreme shopping trips. It even has that aesthetically awful Nissan Cube. Additional costs may apply for certain vehicles.
car2go: A fleet exclusively composed of smart fortwo cars. On the plus side, parking in downtown Toronto should be a breeze.
Zipcar: A roster of vehicles that's similarly diverse to those offered by Autoshare, with the exception of a few luxury vehicles such as the Audi a3 and BMW 323, so you can look like a badass as you help your mom haul old boxes out of her garage.
WHERE TO FIND THE FLEET
AutoShare: AutoShare, like all the options on this list, keeps the bulk of its vehicles in the central downtown area. You can, however find some up past Finch to the north, east to Victoria Park, and west all the way to Mississauga. And some lucky urban dwellers might also find an AutoShare car or two in the garage of their condo or apartment building. The catch — you must return the vehicle to the same spot you picked it up.
car2go: Unlike AutoShare (and Zipcar), you can drop your car2go vehicle back to any designated car2go spot. The catch here is that the company's "home zone" is more limited, stretching west to Jane, east to Victoria Park, south to the Lakeshore, and north just to Eglinton. That said, you can drive outside of the zone, but the car must be returned within these parameters after use. Generally, you'll find car2go cars in Green P parking lots within the zone.
Zipcar: Zipcar's range seems to stretch furthest, though its bulk, again, is in central downtown. You will find some vehicles up at York University, however, as well as west to Kipling and east to Pharmacy. Most of the cars are parked at off-street parking spaces, and vehicles must be returned to the same spot.
AutoShare: It'll cost you a total of $129 to register online. Would-be members must be 21 years old with a valid "G" level license. Approval usually takes two business days. They do, however, have a special promo right now where the membership fee is waived.
car2go: A sign-up fee of $35 but like AutoShare they're currently waiving this fee (just use the discount code TDOT). After registering online, members can expect to receive their card in the mail in about five business days. Must be over 19 with a valid license.
Zipcar: An online application fee of $30 with approved members receiving their cards in the mail in one to three business days. Members can also opt to pick up their cards at the Zipcar office at 147 Spadina. Must be 21 years old and have held a valid license for at least one year.
AutoShare: Fuel (you'll find a gas card in the car; same goes for the other companies), insurance, and 150 kilometres without an additional milage charge (for two out of three AutoShare plans). Must fill up the tank over 1/2 for the next driver.
car2go: Fuel, insurance, 200 kilometres, and a GPS system in every vehicle.
Zipcar- Fuel, insurance, 200 kilometres. Must fill up the tank over 1/4 for the next driver.
AutoShare: Members can book online or reserve a vehicle through AutoShare's mobile site (iPhone/Blackberry/Android compatible). There's also the option to call to reserve a car, though you may be subject to an additional fee.
car2go: Booking is free no matter the method. Can reserve online, over the phone, or on car2go's iPhone, iPad, or Android apps (no love for Blackberry, I suppose).
Zipcar: Online reservation and via iPhone or Android app is free, though booking over the phone may subject you to an additional fee.
AutoShare: AutoShare offers three types of plans, but let's just go with the most basic (i.e. that for the infrequent driver). An annual membership fee will cost $45, with a $10.25 hourly charge and $0.25 per kilometre beyond the include 150. Vehicles must be booked for a minumum of one hour, with the option of adding additional increments of 30 minutes. The daily rate during the week is $76, and $81 on the weekend.
car2go: One plan for everyone. The cost is $0.35 minute, with an hourly maximum of $12.99. The daily maximum is $65.99, with a $0.45/km charge beyond the free 200. No minimum time requirements.
Zipcar: Two plans; the occasional driver package costs $65 annual, with weekday rates from $9.00 per hour and $12.50 on the weekends. Daily weekday and weekend maximums are $78 and $94 respectively. An additional cost of $0.30/km after 200.
Impossible to declare a winner. If you want an Audi experience while picking up groceries, go with Zipcar. If you plan on plenty of five-minute trips, go with car2go. Choose AutoShare for the best kilometre rate for long trips, especially if you have a vehicle parked in your building's garage. No commitment with car2go but little cargo space, and lots of cars to choose from AutoShare and Zipcar, but you're on the hook for additional fees. So, when in doubt, just cycle.