Car2Go to pull out of Calgary and 4 U.S. cities before year's end

The vehicle-sharing service Car2Go says it's pulling out of Calgary and four other North American cities before the end of the year.

Vehicle-sharing company also quitting Austin, Denver, Portland, and Chicago

Car2Go says its service will end in Calgary, Austin, Texas, Denver and Portland on Oct. 31 and in Chicago on Dec. 31. (Daimler AG)

The vehicle-sharing service Car2Go says it's pulling out of Calgary and four U.S. cities before the end of the year.

The company announced Friday that its service would end in Calgary, Denver, and Portland, Ore., and Austin, Tex., on Oct. 31. Its service in Chicago will end on Dec. 31.

"This decision was not made lightly," the company said in a statement posted Friday. "We have had to face the hard reality that despite our efforts, we underestimated the investment and resources that are truly necessary to make our service successful in these complex transportation markets amid a quickly changing mobility landscape."

Car2Go said that since it launched in North America in 2009, transportation has changed drastically, with options that range from "traditional automakers to ride-hail giants to micro-mobility disrupters."

In Calgary, which has had Car2Go since 2012 and is the only Canadian city affected, the company informed its users Friday via a email.

"Despite our best efforts over the years encouraging the city to implement policy that better supported carshare, and amid an ongoing economic recession and an increasingly competitive marketplace, we are unable to continue operating in Calgary," Car2Go said.

"We deeply regret any inconvenience this decision may cause you."

It said the last date users would be able to start a trip in Calgary would be Oct. 31, with all trips ending no later than 11:59 p.m. MT that day.

Many benefits 

The wording of Car2Go's announcement suggested that there may have been some friction with the City of Calgary over car-sharing policies.

But Eric MacNaughton, a senior transportation engineer with the city, says that it actually tried to make Calgary sustainable for Car2Go with policies such as reduced parking costs in residential permit zones.

"We certainly see the benefit of car sharing in Calgary ... so we actually have put in place some policies that reduce costs for car share companies," MacNaughton said.

Car2Go's withdrawal from other North American cities, MacNaughton said, indicates that there are "a wide range of factors" influencing the company's decision.

However, MacNaughton says officials will be reviewing policies to attract similar services. 

"We're going to be taking a step back — looking at our policies, looking at what other car share companies are operating out there ... to make sure that we have car sharing services in the future," MacNaughton said.

Though MacNaughton says his understanding is that Car2Go's decision is final, the city is aware of how many benefits it provides.

"It does reduce the costs of travel for citizens, it can reduce the number of vehicles people need to own, it helps reduce emissions from transportation," MacNaughton said. 

"It meets a lot of the goals that we have as a city, so we are certainly sorry to see Car2Go leaving."

Calgary Coun. Evan Woolley tweeted Friday that he had already spoken with senior transportation staff and the city was working on "a solution to keep this important mobility option" in the city.

With over 100,000 Calgarians using Car2Go, Woolley says it's a big loss that he would work to replace.

"I think if this is a final decision, we will be reaching out to other car share operators and looking at what types of other opportunities might be possible in the private sector," Woolley said.

The news is getting mixed reviews from Calgarians on Twitter.

Focus shifts 

Car2Go users can still use their memberships in other North American locations listed on their website.

The company said it would refocus its efforts on "the cities that present the clearest path to free-floating carshare success" — Montreal, Vancouver, New York City, Washington D.C., and Seattle.

Car2Go stopped operations in Toronto in May 2018, blaming city hall and saying a free-floating car-sharing pilot program passed by council after months of debate was overly restrictive. Specifically, it called the parking permit fees of about $1,500 per vehicle "unprecedented."

With files from Scott Dippel and Audrey Neveu