Even a true believer has to be flexible

Kevin McLaughlin says he was a hard-core environmentalist when he started AutoShare in 1998 as a way to get cars off the streets of Toronto and reduce emissions. One problem: His "green" message didn't resonate with consumers, who were more interested in their own pocketbooks. "People were joining because car sharing was convenient and saved them money," he says. So McLaughlin retooled his marketing, expanded his fleet, signed up 10,000 members and reached profitability by 2005. And the environmental bona fides that seemed largely irrelevant to consumers at the outset may now help to distinguish AutoShare as bigger rivals move into the market.

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