Hertz to muscle in on the British car-club market

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Hertz, the car-rental giant, is to drive into the car-club market competing with independent specialists Streetcar, City Car Club and Zipcar.

The US-listed company will launch clubs in London, Paris and New York before Christmas.

Car-sharing clubs, in which drivers pay an annual fee for access to cars that can be rented by the hour, have seen rapid growth in the UK this year amid rising car taxes and parking fees and soaring fuel costs.

The clubs, which place cars in parking bays around neighbourhoods, have won the backing of local authorities, especially in London, as a way of beating congestion by encouraging residents to forgo their own vehicles.

Streetcar and City Car Club, the UK's two biggest clubs, have a combined 51,000 members and the industry is expected to grow 11-fold in the next four years.

Streetcar, the UK's biggest, is about to announce plans to launch in its seventh city – Oxford. The club will put cars in five locations around the city later this month and expects to double that within six months.