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Exponential Growth

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Dave Wharf, Senior Manager, Business Operations at Evo Car Share hopes to be able to expand the service to other parts of B.C. Credit: Evo Car Share

With more than 200,000 members, this car share program is a real Canadian success story.

Eight years ago, the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) launched Evo Car Share with a small fleet of 250 vehicles. Since then, demand for the service has grown dramatically, and today the fleet has almost 2,500 hybrids, as well as a handful of EVs, and they’re poised for even greater growth in the future.

Currently operating in Metro Vancouver and Victoria, Evo Car Share is a “free-floating” car share program. “What that means,” explains Dave Wharf, Senior Manager, Business Operations at Evo Car Share, “is that vehicles can be picked up anywhere within our service area, and then conveniently dropped off at any location in that zone. There’s no home parking lot where you have to return the car.”

Evo Car Share members use an app on their mobile phones to find the closest vehicle, unlock it and hit the road. They can drive to where they need to go, and simply leave the vehicle at their destination for the next member to pick up whenever it’s needed. Since all the vehicles are push-button start, there’s never a need for car keys to open the doors or to start the engine. Everything is managed through a single app.

Global membership

Evo Car Share has members from all over the globe. Anyone who is interested in using the service can apply online, but membership is only available to individuals with a clean driving record.

“We have members from almost every single country,” Wharf explains, “because we have international students who come to Vancouver to study. As long as they can show proof of a clean driving record from their home country, we can process their application and get them approved.”

Thanks to a partnership with Park ’n’ Fly, Evo Car Share members can fly into Vancouver International Airport, pick up a vehicle at the airport, and then drive to wherever they need to be.

Wharf admits that running a free-floating car share program with over 200,000 members and almost 2,500 vehicles can be complicated, and credits Evo Car Share’s fleet management company, Holman, for helping to optimize the fleet, from acquisition to maintenance to remarketing.

Hybrids and EVs

The vast majority of the vehicles on Evo Car Share’s fleet are Toyota Prius hybrids. “They’re perfect for what we need,” Wharf explains. “They can be equipped with bike racks, ski racks and snowboard racks, which is ideal for many of our members.”

More recently, they’ve added hybrid Toyota Corollas to the mix, as well as a number of Kia Niro EVs, although Wharf admits that adding EVs to a free-floating environment has its unique set of challenges. 

One of the key challenges with a free-floating fleet is fuel. “Right now, we’re fueling our vehicles with the help of mobile fuel trucks that go out during the day and night,” Wharf explains, adding that this wasn’t always the case.

David Holdsworth, Account Executive at Holman was instrumental in helping Evo Car Share get their fleet off the ground and explains how the fleet initially used a more conventional fueling solution.

“We started with a traditional fuel card program,” Holdsworth says, “but that presented us with a whole host of challenges, not the least of which was trying to get the members to take the time to refuel the vehicles. Fuel card theft was another big challenge.”

Holdsworth notes that the fuel card program was in effect for the first two to three years, before it was replaced with a fleet of third-party fueling trucks, which are still in use today.

Future growth

As large, and as successful as the Evo Car Share program has been, Wharf says there’s still room for growth, and that he hopes to be able to expand his fleet to the point where the program can service other parts of B.C.

“We’re the British Columbia Automobile Association,” he says. “I think it’s important that we look at other areas of the province, and that we figure out ways to help more B.C. residents with their mobility solutions. As we look into the future, we also need to figure out how we can get to a zero emission state with our vehicles, and still offer the same service.”

 

Categories : Editorial, Fleet

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