Large scale car sharing comes to Calgary

A new car sharing service launched in Calgary this weekend with 150 cars.

150 of car2go's smart car fleet took to the streets this weekend

Car2go's car sharing system rolled out in Calgary this weekend with 150 smart cars. (Katy Anderson/CBC)

If you were out and about this weekend in Calgary, you may have noticed a fleet of blue and white Smart cars parked around the city.

They're part of a new car sharing service called car2go.

The service, owned by German car manufacturer Daimler, officially arrived in Calgary over the weekend.

Katie Stafford, car2go Canada spokesperson, said 150 smart cars hit the road on Saturday.

"[They’re] for people to use, whenever they want, wherever they want it, for as long as they want it and they can actually just pick up the car with the swipe of a membership card," said Stafford.

Members use a smart phone application to see where available cars are around the city.

In Canada, car2go is also operational in Vancouver and Toronto. In Calgary, Stafford said the company is still in the launch phase.

Car2go has a smart phone app that lets users see where the available cars are. (Screenshot)

"It is an investment on Daimler’s part right now. We know that this is a long-term strategy for bringing car sharing into cities that are going to need it."

Stafford said part of the reason they set up shop here is because of how fast the city is growing.

The company compares Calgary to the first city they launched the program in, Austin, Texas.

"As Austin does, you have more of a sprawling urban area of much larger space than some cities and it’s a little bit less dense population," said Stafford.

"Daimler is in the business of automotive manufacturing, but they’re also looking at the future in terms of what people are going to need in terms of automobiles. As more and more people move into cities you have to think the way that they’re going to be using transportation in those cities."

"So, you need transportation systems that are going to allow you to grow with the number of people that are coming into the city, and that’s attractive to us."

Existing car sharing

Car2go won’t be the first to try out car sharing in the city.

Calgary Carshare has been running since 1999.

Tracey Braun said her non-profit program has grown to seven vehicles and 150 members.

"We have mostly small hatchbacks, but they are four seaters. We also have a minivan available for people who need more seats or to take a run to IKEA."

Braun welcomes the competition — she said anything that gets Calgarians out of their own cars is a good thing.

"We've been laying the groundwork for this sort of thing.  We know that car2go has a different model but it works well with the idea of a lot of choices of transportational alternatives."

With files from the CBC's Dave Waddell