Toronto car-sharing market in over-drive

Alongside the forest of condos, the car-sharing market in Toronto is taking off.

The largest and best known, Zipcar, is adding full sized cargo vans and a new monthly membership fee structure, the company announced Wednesday.

Daimler’s Car2Go service has hired a lobbyist to talk to the city of Toronto about parking permits to serve its one-way hourly rental business.

Meanwhile, some of the biggest names in traditional car rental services, including Hertz and Enterprise, are dabbling in the concept of short-term, self-serve hourly rentals in their home markets.

Car sharing is an idea whose time has come, says Kevin McLaughlin, president and founder of AutoShare, Toronto’s oldest locally-owned service.

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“Somebody over the weekend said, ‘How is business going?’ I talked about traffic, the price of gas, the number of condos going up. All of which contributes to the fact that if you live in Toronto you don’t need to own a car any more. It’s expensive,” McLaughlin said. “The business opportunity is enormous.

“Our relationship with the car is changing,” McLaughlin added. “The idea that when you’re 16 you get a license, aspire to own a Mustang and to meet girls you drive over to the A&W — that doesn’t happen anymore.”

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