Friday, April 29, 2005

CommunAuto - Something Completely Different

When CommunAuto began in Montreal in 1994, it was the ONLY show on the continent - the first carsharing company in North America. Benoit Robert did it HIS way - he started as a non profit and several years later converted to a for-profit company.

Now he has more cars in one city than any other company. But, he doesn't appear to have forgotten who his customers are (maybe he couldn't forget since he was in such close touch with them - he didn't begin automating his service until last year - at well over 200 cars, if I'm not mistaken).

First, check out these rates (quoted in Canadian $)
MEMBERSHIP FEE - $500 - refundable (used for financing vehicles)
RESERVATION - If you don't use their web scheduling - it's 50 cents per call ($1 at night) to talk to an operator
HOURLY RATE - Offpeak $1.50/hr. or $15/day (Tuesday to Thursday)
Peak: $2/hr. or $20/day. (Friday- Sunday)
Daily rates include 300 KM per day
DISTANCE PLANS - Frequent users (more than 3500 km per year)
Annual dues: $350 per year.
Rate per kilometre: 15¢ at all times. Special deal of $12/day for these users

Plan B (for people who expect to travel between 1500 and 3000 km a year)
Annual dues: $140 per year.
Rate per kilometre: 22¢ for the first 100 km of a trip and 15¢ for the remainder of the trip.

Occasional (less than 1500 km a year) Annual dues: $35 per year.
Rate per kilometre: 28¢ for the first 100 km of a trip and 18¢ per KM for the remainder of the trip.

Part of the way CommunAuto is able to offer such rates is has only 2 types of cars - Toyota Echos and Tercels, which he keeps for up to 6 years! Benoit said he was interested in exploring the upscale market but feels that the Quebec'ers are very price sensitive.

Let's compare monthly revenues to CommunAuto (Plan B above) and Philly Carshare (chosen because of their affordable rate structure) and Flexcar Advantage 10 plan for an average customer of 4 trips per month of 4 hours + 25 miles (41 KM) each:
Communauto - 16 hours X $2/hour = $32 + 164 KM X $.22/KM = $36.08 + $11/month (allocated annual membership) = $79.08/month (CDN $)
Philly Carshare - 16 hours X $5.90/hour = $94.40 + 100 miles X $.09/mile = $9.00 + $15 membership =$118.40/month
Flexcar - 16 hours X $8.50 hour = $136 + $3.30 (allocated annual membership) = $139.30

Surprising, isn't it? In addition to the cost factors mentioned above, another factor that probably helps CommunAuto offer such low rates and still make money is the decision to allocate costs over a bigger fleet.