Communauto inaugurates “zone stations” and expands its fleet

With 885 more vehicles by fall, Communauto is trying a new approach to fight against the lack of space, learned The Press. The car-sharing company will announce this Friday the creation of 90 new “station-zones” to allow users to return reserved vehicles in larger areas.

What there is to know

  • 90 new “station-zones” will be distributed across 10 boroughs, at a rate of 500 meters by 500 meters.
  • Communauto plans to add 710 vehicles by the end of the summer, and 175 more in the fall, for a total of 885 new vehicles.
  • The “FLEX” territory will be extended to the Lachine and Montreal-North sectors, up to Cégep Marie-Victorin.

“It should allow us to better balance supply and demand,” summarizes the organization’s president, Benoit Robert, in an interview.

For several years, he says, the lack of spaces and parking lots has prevented Communauto teams from acquiring more vehicles at the stations. Very popular with customers, these can be reserved up to a month in advance, unlike “FLEX” cars, which can be parked in the street and reserved instantly on the mobile application.

In full growth – today, 12% of the Montreal population subscribes to Communauto – the company has therefore realized that it needed to “innovate” differently. “Every year, we know that we have to add hundreds of new vehicles to meet demand,” illustrates the vice-president, Marco Viviani.

Either we found new ways to distribute them, or we just couldn’t.

Marco Viviani, vice-president of Communauto

An agreement has therefore been reached with the City to create a pilot project of “station-zones”, in which you can park your vehicle directly on the street, like a “FLEX”, including in spaces reserved for residents with vignettes. Measuring 500 meters by 500 meters on average, these 90 expanded spaces will be located in various boroughs, at least until November 2023.

In the Plateau-Mont-Royal, where we tested everything on a small scale a few months ago, we will find 21 of these zones. In Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, there will be 11 zones and in Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, 7. The boroughs of Ville-Marie, Sud-Ouest, Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension, Verdun, Ahuntsic-Cartierville and Outremont will then join the project.

“Montreal is happy to be a leading player in the development of car sharing,” said the city’s transport manager, Sophie Mauzerolle. In a statement, she affirms that the project “will offer a response that meets the expectations and growing needs of users”.

A growing park, but…

Some 710 more Communauto vehicles will be deployed this summer in Montreal. At this time, 148 have already arrived and 157 are “waiting” at the dealership. The others will arrive gradually during the summer. Of these 710 cars, 660 will be in fixed station, and 50 in “FLEX” mode. It is expected that approximately 350 of these vehicles will be reserved for the new “station-zones”.

At the end of the summer, the company therefore expects to have just over 3,500 vehicles. Then, during the fall, 175 additional cars will be added, making a total of 3,685. The 4,000 vehicle mark could then be crossed, more likely in 2024.

That said, several challenges could complicate the acquisition of the desired number of vehicles in the coming months. “At the moment, manufacturers don’t have a lot of margin, and they are cutting a lot on the business and commercial park. In other words, we cannot be certain that we will be able to acquire everything,” admits Mr. Viviani in this sense.

Of the 885 vehicles we plan to acquire over the summer and fall, only 80 will be fully electric, as these models are becoming rare. Communauto has also made a request to the Ministry of the Environment to modify its standard on zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) “to first promote the sale of electric vehicles to car-sharing services”.

Expanded perimeters, new models

A hundred new fixed stations will also appear on the island of Montreal this year, particularly in the Bois-Franc district of the borough of Saint-Laurent, where residents have been calling for the arrival of Communauto for some time. The “FLEX” territory will be extended to Lachine and Montreal-North, up to Cégep Marie-Victorin.

Seven new car models will now be offered: Nissan Sentra, Nissan Kicks, Kia Forte 5, Kia Sportage, Chevrolet Bolt EV, Kia Sorento and Kia Carnival.

In the last two cases, these are vans that can carry up to eight people. “We notice that more spacious cars that are not SUVs are increasingly disappearing from the market. We are therefore faced with having to buy more energy-intensive models, unfortunately,” laments Benoit Robert.

Communauto will also unveil this Friday the results of a vast survey carried out among 7,500 of its users in February 2023. We learn in particular that 83% of its users do not own a car and that approximately 78% of customers say they have either sold their vehicle or gave up buying one.

Learn more

  • 39 percent
    Currently, on the island of Montreal, there are approximately 39 vehicles per 100 inhabitants. In the suburbs, it is rather 63 vehicles per 100 inhabitants. Quebec arrives not far with 58 cars per 100 inhabitants.


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