Five years after the ACT government declared a promising future for the concept of car sharing in the vehicle-loving territory, one of the market's biggest commercial operators has packed up and left.
GoGet quietly withdrew some six weeks ago, removing its 27 shared cars from Canberra. The same market withdrawal has occurred in Adelaide.
However, at the same time as GoGet has driven out another different car share platform, Car Next Door, has driven in - and is thriving.
Car Next Door has clocked up 1800 trips and $250,000 in bookings since its May 2019 launch.
Scott Collinson, who lives in Civic and works near the airport, says online Car Next Door bookings on his Toyota Camry have been so busy, he hasn't seen his car since January.
"For me, with the bookings I have had and in the weeks ahead, owning the car will be cost-positive from the end of May," he said.
Ellie Murray and her partner live in Lyneham and have been saving up to buy a house. They sold their Jaguar and use public transport to get around, then book a Car Next Door when they need to go somewhere further afield.
"We looked at using GoGet but it's a subscription model, so you have to pay upfront; the Car Next Door model suited us better. You can get a car for about $34 a day," she said.
GoGet's business model, with its high fixed costs, didn't weather the lean financial times of the Covid pandemic as adroitly as others, with the Australian management team citing "continued market uncertainty" and its necessity to focus on its "core, growing markets" as the reasons for its withdrawal.
"Car share will be even stronger when the current uncertainty is behind us," GoGet said in its statement.
"We want to thank you for your support during our time in Canberra and appreciate this will be hard news for some of you."
Car sharing had been promoted as a rising "shared mobility/transport choice" for consumers and although the concept is in its infancy in Australia, it was widely expected to grow in popularity.
The 2016 deal which brought GoGet to Canberra was part of the power-sharing agreement between Labor and the Greens in 2012, and 22 carparks were set aside in places such as London Circuit, Russell, and Dickson.
The government issued an invitation to Goget and Popcar to trial here, with exclusive access for two years.
Canberra's City Services has advised that GoGet has now relinquished its permits for its dedicated parking spaces.
ACT Transport spokesperson Jo Clay said the loss of GoGet was a "massive shame" but said that the Covid lockdown period was particularly tough for industries such as transport and hospitality.
"The role for government with these emerging and disruptor types of businesses is to provide a bit of assistance so they can find their feet," she said.
"The first two to five years is a real test of a business's sustainability and we've seen a lot of new transport options emerge in Canberra just in the past five years."
The GoGet concept began in Sydney in 2002, with subscription plans tailored to frequency of use by members. Types of vehicles offered ranged from small hatchbacks to vans and people movers.
Frequent users paid the cheapest hourly rate, with fees structured according to the type of vehicle chosen and distance travelled. Bookings were made via the company's app or website.
Despite its failure in Canberra, similar car share concepts are thriving in other major cities around the world. In the Italian cities of Milan and Turin , a company called LeasysGO! is growing its program in which fleets of electric Fiat 500 hatchbacks can be rented on prepaid subscription, even by the minute.
Parking and recharging of the cars within city limits in Italy is free. The fleet will soon be expanded to Rome and into the French city of Lyon.