Archive for April, 2015

Montréal one-way carshare comparison: Auto-mobile and car2go

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Montréal is quite possibly the only city in U.S. & Canada to host two one-way roaming carshare operations, allowing direct comparisons between different companies’ operations.

Communauto, Québec’s home grown carsharing company, was founded in 1994. In June 2013, they started Auto-mobile, a one-way roaming service. car2go became the second one-way carshare in Montréal in November 2013; I compared their operations in Montréal with car2go systems in other cities in Canada in an earlier blog post.

In late March 2015, car2go had around 330 vehicles in Montréal, all gasoline smart fortwos. Auto-mobile had around 140 vehicles, mostly hybrid Toyota Prius Cs (~85%) with a few all-electric Nissan Leafs (~15%).

The two systems’ operating areas are mostly similar. As of March 2015, both systems include Le Plateau-Mont-Royal and Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie boroughs in east Montréal, and much of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Sud-Ouest in the west. Auto-mobile additionally includes Verdun, while car2go includes a couple outlying parking spots and a few more mainly industrial areas that Auto-mobile excludes. The map below shows car2go operating area marked in blue and Auto-mobile’s in green, with the area covered by both systems in a darker green.

Map of operating areas, the same as discussed in text

I took a look at the use of the two systems during the week starting early morning Monday, March 23rd and ending early morning Monday, March 30th.

Auto-mobile’s total utilization ratio for this period was 22.8%, meaning the average car was used for about 5 hours 30 minutes per every 24 hours. car2go’s utilization ratio was 18.9%, meaning the average vehicle was used for about 4 hours 30 minutes per 24 hours. This includes nighttime when most cars are not used; a private car used for a long, one-hour-each-way commute and then some errands might clock up 3 hours per day, and most are used well less than that.

The use pattern for the two systems is somewhat different. Auto-mobile cars make roughly half the amount of separate trips that car2go vehicles make. The median Auto-mobile car makes 2.93 trips per day, and the 25-75th percentile range is 1.71-4.11 trips per car per day. The median car2go vehicle makes 5.86 trips per day, and the 25-75th percentile range is 4.86-6.71. The most-used Auto-mobile car made 43 trips in the 7 day data period (average of 6.14 trips per day), and the most-used car2go vehicle made 72 trips in the 7 days (average of 10.29 trips per day).

Distances per trip are largely similar (see below for note about how distances are measured). Auto-mobile’s median distance per trip is 1.31 km, while car2go’s is slightly higher at 1.59 km. 10.9% of Auto-mobile trips and 9.9% of car2go trips are longer than 5 km. Although the east-west (Parc Angrignon to Jardin botanique) span of the operating areas is around 16 km, there were very few longer trips: only 0.71% of Auto-mobile trips were longer than 10 km, and for car2go this figure was only 0.20%.

Auto-mobile users make more relatively long trips. The Auto-mobile median trip duration is 32 minutes, and the 25-75th percentile range is 17-67 minutes. car2go’s median trip duration is 25 minutes, and the 25-75th percentile range is 15-33 minutes. 16.6% of Auto-mobile trips are over 2 hours, while the same figure for car2go is only 3.8%. Similarly 6.2% of Auto-mobile trips are over 5 hours, compared to only 1.7% for car2go.

Based on Auto-mobile’s longer trip durations and shorter apparent trip distances, it appears the service is more frequently used for longer round trips with the vehicle being returned near where it was picked up. This might be due to Auto-mobile’s operation as a complement to Communauto’s traditional station-based carshare system. Communauto members are able to use both carshare models interchangeably and might tend to use Auto-mobile cars for longer round trips more frequently, perhaps if an Auto-mobile car is closer than an available Communauto vehicle.


The figures in this article are calculated based on vehicle availability starting Monday, March 23rd, 2015 at 4:00 a.m. EDT and ending Monday, March 30th at 4:00 a.m. EDT (8:00 UTC).

This article uses data from the car2go API but is not endorsed or certified by car2go.

For both systems, I was only able to get current availability of vehicles. When collected over time this data allows collation of trips, but some level of inaccuracy will result; for instance, cars that are reserved or blocked are reported as in use by the APIs, so trip time includes reservation time if any. As I only have access to start and end locations for each trip and not the odometer reading, trip distances are calculated as the crow flies. Further, a round trip in which the member does not terminate the trip midway will appear to have a relatively long duration but a short distance.