Can't stand the congestion, the cost or the CO2 fumes? Then hire a car at the club
Harriet Meyer on the vehicle-sharing initiatives that are helping thousands of city dwellers to cut both their motoring bills and their carbon footprint
Sunday 28 October 2007
As any car owner will testify, hitting the road means digging deep. The cost of insurance, maintenance, fuel, road tax and parking – just some of the expenses involved – can amount to thousands of pounds a year. And with over 20 million cars on the road, there is a big environmental price to pay for Britain's obsession with private transport.
To reduce the expense and hassle, more and more UK motorists are choosing to join car-share clubs. For a small annual fee or one-off membership charge, they can book a vehicle for as little as 30 minutes or a number of days or weeks, and be charged only for how long they use it and how far they drive.
There are now some 20 of these clubs operating in towns and cities around the UK, with nearly 30,000 members. They are easy to use. People who need a car for an hour, for example, log on to a website or phone the host company to book one. It is then usually just a short stroll to a parking bay to pick the vehicle up.
To open the car, a smart card is swiped across a windscreen reader. You take the keys from the glove compartment, input a pin number and away you go. The hourly rate is usually around £5, and often a free daily fuel allowance of 30 or so miles is included. After that, you pay about 20p per mile driven.
Rather than having to meet these costs with loose change, members are sent a monthly bill which is debited from their account. Insurance (excluding the excess payment), cleaning, servicing and car tax are all paid by the club. Considering it costs an average of around £5,500 per year for motorists to own and run their cars, according to the AA, members can save hefty sums – as well as helping to reduce pollution.
"On average, people cut their mileage by 60 per cent," says Philip Igoe, co-director of charity Carplus, set up to promote car clubs. "They appreciate the effect on their pocket and the environmental benefits."
With more than 20,000 members and 600 cars, Streetcar, established in 2004 and operating in London and the South-east, is the biggest company of its kind.
"Invariably, people come to us through frustration," says a spokesman. "They haven't been able to park, for example, and tend to be young professionals making a financial as well as an environmental decision."
Members pay an annual £49.95 fee and £4.95 an hour to hire a car – or £49.50 for a weekend or £195 for a week. Included is 30 miles' worth of free petrol a day; petrol costs 19p a mile after that. Streetcar's fleet consists mainly of Volkswagens but it also has vans.
Another big provider is City Car Club, which operates in eight UK cities and has 4,000 members. Its customers pay a £75 joining fee, plus an hourly rate of £4.75 in London. This club offers five-door hatchbacks and some hybrid cars with lower carbon emissions. Included is 50 miles' worth of free petrol a day.
"Local authorities are really starting to embrace the idea, and this is vital for car clubs, which need on-street parking locations," says City Car Club's chief executive, James Finlayson.
"The concept is still embryonic in the UK, but it's becoming more mainstream."
'They're cheaper than taxis or running your own car'
Tim Pope, 52, a lawyer from Leeds, has been a member of the WhizzGo car club, which has 3,500 members in 11 British cities, for three years.
He lives in a block of flats in the busy city centre and does not own a car because of the cost and the difficulty of parking. After seeing a row of WhizzGo's cars on the street, he decided to become a member.
"I'm close to the station and airport so make use of public transport a lot of the time," says Tim. "But to go and see friends at weekends and for supermarket shopping on the edge of town, the service is really useful." He hires cars regularly, paying around £150 a month.
"They're cheaper than taxis and convenient if you can't get a train to where you're going. Running a car would cost more."
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Mark Dampier: An infrastructure fund that builds returns by taking different roads
Simon Read: Timeshare owners accuse Macdonald Resorts of land grab
Donald MacInnes: Let's pretend Scotland won and now a salmon is running the country
Five Questions: Changes to car tax discs
Bargain Hunter: Win a new iPhone 6
- 1 Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
iJobs Money & Business
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...
Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...
£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...
Day In a Page
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize