Winnipeg car co-op beefs up fleet with new 4x4 truck

Winnipeg's sole vehicle-sharing co-operative has been expanding its fleet of mostly small cars since its inception seven years ago. Now its members have access to something big enough to carry a couch during a move.

Peg City Car Co-op, launched in 2011 with 3 cars, now has at least 24 in fleet

Peg City Car Co-op opened in 2011 with three cars. Its members now have access to two dozen vehicles throughout downtown and the surrounding area, including this four-wheel-drive pickup truck. (Peg City Car Co-op)

Members of Winnipeg's sole vehicle-sharing co-operative now have access to something big enough to haul a load of junk to the landfill or carry a couch during a move.

Peg City Car Co-op recently added a four-wheel-drive truck to its fleet of 25 vehicles parked in and around Winnipeg's downtown core.

"A truck is something someone needs every once in a while," said Philip Mikulec, operations manager with the co-operative. He says many people are familiar with the experience of having to ask a friend with a truck for a favour during a move.

"We want to be your friend now," Mikulec said. "We want you to have the opportunity to use a truck when you need it."

The co-operative, which started with three vehicles when it began operating in 2011, has steadily expanded its fleet to keep up with a rise in demand. It has a couple electric cars and vans, but before the truck most of the vehicles were compact, fuel-efficient cars.

New members are charged a one-time, $500 fee that is refundable if they ever decide to leave the co-operative. Hourly and per-kilometre fees are also applied that go toward insurance, gas and regular maintenance.

Mikulec says the new addition is about diversifying its fleet to attract new members and meet the needs of the roughly 900 people already enrolled in the co-operative. In 2013, the co-op had 140 members.

People living downtown and in Osborne Village have always showed interest in the program, but it's in the Exchange District where the co-operative has seen its more recent spike in demand. A third vehicle was stationed in the Exchange on Christmas Eve "as a gift" to members, some of whom felt they were having a hard time reserving one of the previous two vehicles in the area, Mikulec says.

"We want to make sure there's as little booking frustration as possible," he said.

"Sometimes we have to push the envelop a little bit to ensure the usage is going to be sustained, and as soon as we find that that's the case, we put another car down to ensure people have a car when they need it."

Members 'extremely excited'

As for the truck, Mikulec says one member of the co-op already made use of it this year.

Apart from that example, Mikulec says, members have been letting co-op staff know how much they appreciate the new addition.

"People were extremely excited," he said. "I think it was one of the most positive Facebook responses we've ever had."

The truck, technically classified as "light duty," can carry about 600 kilograms and has the capacity to tow a trailer, Mikulec says.

The co-operative is designed for people with occasional car needs who don't necessarily need or want to own. It's also targeted at families or people who may need a second vehicle once in a while.

Mikulec says demand continues to rise, adding the co-operative hopes to add its 30th vehicle by the end of 2018.

With files from Janice Grant and Marcy Markusa