New carshare service with 2,000 electric vehicles launching in Metro Vancouver

Sep 20 2019, 8:30 am

There will soon be a new carshare player in Metro Vancouver, and its name is SUMO — short for Shared Use Mobility Company.

The locally-based company plans to initially launch as a fixed-point service with two hubs, including a northern hub serving Surrey City Centre and a southern hub serving South Surrey and White Rock.

A smartphone app for the service will be ready by the summer of 2020. SUMO’s initial fleet of vehicles will use 100 Hyundai electric IONIQ cars and 50 Hyundai KONA cars, plus a range of other vehicles such as Volkswagen ID, Audi E-tron, Tesla, and the Ford F-150 electric truck.

As the all-electric vehicle fleet and the number of hubs grow, the business model will shift to intra-hub pick-up and return.

When the fleet size reaches a critical mass stage, SUMO will become a regional free-float service, with an aim to have 2,000 vehicles by the end of 2022.

At the moment, SUMO’s greatest obstacle with expanding quickly appears to be available parking space, according to Raghbir Gurm with the startup.

“The limiting factor for growth is the number of spaces available to park share vehicles and the commiserate charging infrastructure,” Gurm told Daily Hive. “To increase the number of parking space the focus of our plan is to market the SUMO branded hub to all active real estate developers.”

He says their electric-battery vehicle fleet will have its own charging infrastructure, and users will be served with branded multi-modal mobility hubs complete with other modal share services, such as bike share.

When it comes to the potential impact from the planned launch of ridehailing in Metro Vancouver, Gurm believes ridehailing is integral to the healthy mix of mobility options that should be available, with much potential for future overlap with the eventual advent of self-driving vehicles.

“Ridehailing is an important aspect of the mix of mobility options. However we see the two that is hailing and sharing morph into one when autonomous vehicles become legally acceptable,” he said, adding that “we forecast an exponential growth of all” based on industry forecasts that one in 80 cars on the road will be shared and electric-battery powered by 2025.

Gurm also thinks SUMO’s strategy to partner with real estate developers in building branded multi-modal hubs will be a “paradigm shifting product,” allowing whole levels of “wasteful” underground parking to be eliminated. It could reduce construction costs by millions, which would help housing affordability.

“Our vision of the future is that there will be a self drive vehicle available within a five-minute distance in the operating area to be called via the mobile app… We think that car ownership is passé,” Gurm continued.

“The trend away from car ownership centric mobility to access to multiple modes of activity is evident and will continue to grow.”

The latest data, as of Spring 2019, shows there are now over 3,500 carshare vehicles in the region, with free-floating carshare services — mainly Car2Go and Evo — accounting for 80% of the entire carshare fleet in Vancouver.