Victoria Car Share Co-op eyes merger

Modo has a fleet of 365 cars and 11,000 members in Greater Vancouver.

Victoria Car Share Co-op is in the process of merging with a Vancouver-based cooperative car share company.

Formed in 1996, Victoria Car Share has 23 cars in its fleet and 800 members. The depreciation of value of these cars costs the co-op a lot of money, said Tom Berkhout, Victoria Car Share chair.

“We’re not a booming business. The majority of the time we’ve broken even and some years we don’t even do that,” said Berkhout.

“The reason is the depreciation of our cars. You have to replace them every five to seven years, which means the value of the business is dropping because of the depreciation.”

Berkhout said in order to expand car sharing in Victoria, they have to be able to buy new cars and update the technology in the cars.

“When you’re just a break-even business to start with, having to invest dollars with the hopes of getting more revenues is sticking your neck out pretty far,” said Berkhout.

This sparked the idea of merging with Modo.

“It allows us to get to the next level of car sharing,” said Berkhout, adding that the cars will be newer since Modo replaces its cars every three to five years and the technology in their cars is more advanced.

The name Victoria Car Share Co-op will be no more, with Modo replacing it.

“All the corporate decisions would be coming out of Vancouver, but there would be a very strong Victoria presence for Modo,” said Berkhout.

Having Modo in Greater Victoria as well as Greater Vancouver will allow members to easily use cars in either place, he said.

“[Modo is] much bigger than we are, but they’re a cooperative and we’re a cooperative” said Berkhout “It’s not some big private money-making corporation that’s taking us over. It’s a regionally-based cooperative.”

Nathalie Baudoin, CEO of Modo, said she thinks the transition will be easy, because the two companies are a “natural fit” together.

Started in 1996, the same year as Victoria Car Share, Modo has a fleet of 365 cars and 11,000 members in Greater Vancouver.

“The biggest benefit is going to be for the Victoria members to really use out state of the art technology,” said Baudoin. “For me, I’m very excited about the merge because it’s a bigger territory, and it helps us grow faster. IT helps us grow the movement of car sharing.”

The merger is expected to take place next spring, but first Victoria Car Share members must vote on it, said Berkhout, adding the company will go to the members in January or February to discuss if they accept the proposal or not.

“So far the response we’ve got has been very positive from our membership,” said Berkhout.