Toronto’s newest car-share company caters to a need for speed
Published Saturday, July 20, 2019 1:10PM EDT Last Updated Monday, July 22, 2019 12:00PM EDT
The newest entry to Toronto’s increasingly crowded car-sharing market is promising the thrills of high-end horsepower, without the high-end price tags.
R-Club is the brainchild of Adam Westland and Noah Barlow. The pair grew up together in Utopia, Ontario, where they spent their days grinding gears and trying to find a way to parlay their love of cars into a steady pay cheque.
“R-Club is like a library for luxury cars,” Barlow said. “We’re a membership-based club. You walk in, you pick your car, you drive out.”
Memberships start at $9000 annually, opening the door to high-octane rides like the 2018 Acura NSX, a sleek sportscar boasting 573 horsepower. Other vehicles offered to members include a pair of Porsche vehicles, a classic Mustang and an Alfa Romero. Barlow says their fleet will reflect the desires of their membership.
“We know people don’t have a lot of garage space in Toronto so maybe they think they’d like a car that’s a little more exciting. People are owning less, so we feel this is the right opportunity for them to come in and enjoy the cars without the hassle of ownership.”
The cars are currently stored at an East York warehouse, which doubles as a clubhouse of sorts. It’s a place where cars in various states of repair sit on hydraulic lifts, next to people sipping craft beer and playing video games.
“We don’t really see ourselves as having a lot of competition. We don’t think there’s anything else like this in the city. We’re really looking to build a community event space,” said Barlow.
According to Shauna Brail, an associate professor at the University of Toronto, there were only 1500 car-share vehicles on North American roads in 2010. Now there are more than 130,000.
An estimated 2.9 million people are currently using car-sharing services in North America, Brail said.
“A vehicle is something that sits idle 95 per cent of the time. Owning a vehicle is the second most expensive household expense for a family at close to $10,000 per year,” said Brail. “It’s not just a trend. It’s something many people are moving towards, including the automotive companies. In the automotive sector, they’re talking about three things—a move to autonomous, electric and shared.”
A report out of Europe by ING projects that by 2035, average sales of ‘shared cars’ will be 1.5 million units or one in every nine cars sold.