I’ve been living and driving in Vancouver for a little over two-and-a-half years, and haven’t once wished that I had a car of my own. That’s not to say that there aren’t times when having four wheels is useful (moving house, grocery shopping, border runs), but that these needs can all be met by Vancouver’s car sharing providers.
Whichever option you go with, choosing to car share in Vancouver offers the opportunity to reserve a specific vehicle online, which you lock and unlock via an electronic fob. Inside you’ll find the keys to the vehicle, which you can then hire by the minute, hour or day. No crippling tax or insurance payments, no hundreds-of-dollars services, and no paying through the roof for a parking space in your building.
So, how can you car share in Vancouver and how much does it cost? Let’s go driving in Vancouver!
This page gives an overview of your options for car sharing in Vancouver. For a deep dive into the subject, including information on emissions and more, visit Djuna and Luke’s blog on the subject of car sharing in Vancouver.
Why Car Share in Vancouver?
Choosing to car share in Vancouver is an eco-friendly alternative to car ownership, and perks include the ability to park at any resident-only or permit-only zones in Vancouver. Memberships with all providers include gas, insurance, maintenance and roadside assistance, though there are differences between the services. The application process always includes a driver’s license check, and only drivers with a clean abstract will be granted a membership.
I use two car sharing companies to go driving in Vancouver, and rely on the services for both one-way and return trips. With my memberships I’ve been able to get myself over to Granville Island for drinks and not worry about driving back, flagpole at the border to activate IEC work permits and Permanent Residency, and cart 90lb display stands across Vancouver for work. As a result, I have no need to enter the expensive and hassle-filled world of car ownership, especially when I don’t know for sure how long I’ll be living in Canada. Instead, I can use the money I’ve saved on car parts to put towards my goal of seeing more of Canada over the next couple of years. Overall, it makes driving in Vancouver much easier. Works for me!
Who? Car2go Vancouver is different from Zipcar and Modo in that it’s a one-way service. This means you can pick a car up from one spot and drop it off somewhere else entirely. Car2go Vancouver have marked spaces for car2go vehicles only, though cars can also be left in any resident-only parking space in the ‘home area’ of Vancouver.
Car2go started as a fleet of two-seater smart cars (pictured), though this was expanded in 2017 to include four-seater Mercedes Benz SUVs and sedans too.
How much? Using a car2go Vancouver smart car costs 32c per minute, capped at $13 per hour. For the four-seater SUVs and sedans, the rate is 45c per minute, or $17 per hour.
Highlights: One-way trips mean no more buses or taxis on nights out, and you have the freedom to leave the cars almost anywhere in the home area.
Who? Modo, a not-for-profit co-operative, is the oldest car sharing program in Vancouver. Modo’s service works on a two-way system, and cars must be returned to the same spot from which they came. Cars are billable by the hour or the day.
How much? Members can choose from making a one-time, refundable share purchase of $500 to receive the lowest rates from $5 per hour, or paying an $8 monthly fee for casual rates of $8.75 per hour. Modo members have access to 300 vehicles for driving in Vancouver, including vans and hybrids, at 250 locations across Greater Vancouver.
Highlights: Modo’s status as a co-operative, not a for-profit company, makes them a great choice for more socially conscious consumers.
Who? Zipcar is the second two-way car sharing service in Vancouver, and opened its Vancouver office in 2007. Zipcar was founded in Boston in 2007, and is now an international company spanning more than 50 cities in North America and Europe. This means that your membership in Vancouver is also valid in Toronto, Seattle, Barcelona and London, UK. Like Modo, you have to return your car to the same spot from which you picked it up.
How much? Zipcar’s most popular plan is $70 per year (plus $25 registration fee) with rates from $7.75 per hour. Rates are more expensive at weekends ($9 per hour), and available models include a Toyota Prius, BMW X1, and Ford Transit 150 cargo vans.
Highlights: Zipcar replaces all vehicles regularly, so you’re unlikely to be driving a car that is more than two years old.
Who? Evo offers a fleet of Toyoto Prius Hybrids and is operated by the BC Automobile Association. One-way trips are available, however all trips must start and end in the Evo Home Zone.
How much? 41c per minute, $14.99 per hour, or $89.99 per day. A distance rate applies for trips over 200km. Registration costs $35, and a $2 car share operator fee is also levied.
Highlights: Widely available and an easy to use option for car share in Vancouver.
- Please note that in order to register with any of the above companies, you will need a valid driver’s license. To find out more, visit our comprehensive guide to driver’s licenses in Canada.
- For more on living and driving in Vancouver, please see our Living in Vancouver page.
This article was originally published in 2013, and was updated in December 2017 to include latest pricing information. Lizzie started her blog, Marmite to Maple, when she made her move to Vancouver from the UK in January 2010, and continues to write about her experiences as a new Permanent Resident.