Car Sharing in the UK

Car sharing is becoming an increasingly popular way of using vehicles for short period of time. Whether a driver needs a car for a few hours or several days, car sharing is an affordable alternative for quick access to vehicles. Car sharing services, more commonly known as car clubs, operate in communities across the UK and serve hundreds of thousands of drivers each year. In addition to convenience, car sharing is an affordable alternative to car ownership or traditional car rentals for occasional drivers. They are also environmentally friendly and low carbon transport solutions, and are helping to reduce the number of cars and congestion in UK cities.

About Car Sharing

Car sharing allows drivers to have access to vehicles on an as-needed basis, providing an opportunity to drive private cars without the responsibility and financial burden of owning one. Although car sharing is an economical option for occasional drivers, it may not be cost-effective for people who commute to and from work on a daily basis. Although car sharing can trace its roots to the 1940s, they came of age during the 1980s and 1990s in parts of Europe and North America.

Car sharing services operate designated car parks with shared vehicles. These car parks are typically found with easy access to public transport, including at rail and coach stations. Car clubs generally provide members with all-inclusive fees, which fuel and insurance costs. Unlike many traditional car rental services, car sharing offers 24-hour access as well as self-service booking, pick-up and return. In addition to per day rates, vehicles are also available at per minute and hourly rates. Car clubs also require members to be pre-approved to use the service.

Car Clubs in the UK

A car club offers affordable access to shared vehicles 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Members book a vehicle and pick it up from designated car parks. A vehicle can be reserved online or by phone with as much or as little notice as needed. Cars can be booked for an hour or several days. Car club members are generally provided with a swipe card, which is used to obtain keys from the vehicle. Once a member has finished using the car, they return it to the same location. Payment is then calculated and charged to a member's account based on how long the vehicle was used.

Carplus, a shared mobility and low carbon transport advocate founded in 2000, estimates that there are over 160,000 people who are members of car clubs in England, Scotland and Wales. Car clubs in the UK operate fleets with over 3,000 vehicles in hundreds of locations. Some of the most popular car clubs include City Car Club, Co-wheels, E-Car Club, easyCar Club, Hertz 24/7 and Zipcar. There are also numerous community-led car clubs in towns and cities across England, Scotland and Wales.

Benefits of Car Sharing

There are a number of benefits to car sharing, including convenience. Owning a car often means a lot of maintenance, from regular servicing to ongoing repairs. There is also the need for insurance and a place to park your vehicle at the end of the day. Car sharing provides drivers with an easy and hassle-free way of using a vehicle without the stress of owning one. Car sharing can also saves drivers money. For drivers who use a car for less than 6,000 to 8,000 miles annually, a car club can save up to £3,500 per year according to Carplus. Savings include reduced costs related to fuel, serving and repairs, parking, tax and MOT fees, and other related costs. Drivers also do not have to worry about the depreciation of the value of their own car.

One of the most important benefits of car sharing is the reduced environmental impact when compared to driving a private vehicle. Joining a car club or carpooling reduces a driver's carbon footprint and cuts carbon emissions. A vehicle operated by a car club saves on average 1.392 tonnes of carbon each year, according to Carplus. The non-profit organisation and shared mobility advocate also estimates that approximated 850 private cars have been removed from Scotland's roads thanks to the growth of car clubs. It also estimates that about the purchase of 1,900 private cars has been deferred as a result of car clubs in Scotland. The London car club fleet alone saves an estimated 2,262 tonnes of carbon per year.