Car clubs see huge rise in membership
Increasing numbers of motorists are throwing away their car keys and turning to car clubs instead in a bid to save money.
Transport for London, which recently announced a £1m investment package to support the growth of car clubs across the capital, say almost 53,000 Londoners are now members of one of these car-sharing schemes and that motorists can save up to £3,500 a year by using them.
TfL say the funding will be used to provide over 700 new parking spaces for car clubs, with the aim of bringing around a third of London residents within just a five minute walk of a car club vehicle.
The Zipcar car club, which has several vehicles in the local area, say they saw record membership growth last summer. The company say they have around 10,000 new members a month - triple the number who joined at the same time last year. They say a new survey attributes the growth to rising fuel prices and that 40% of new members cited the cost of fuel as their reason for joining.
Eugenie Santiago of Hammersmith Grove parted with her Citroen Saxo of four years and began to use car club vehicles instead. She says she is saving nearly £1,000 year. “I feel a lot more relaxed now as I don’t have to stress any longer about renewing the car tax, insurance or MOT. It frees up my time to focus and spend on other things in my life. Parking is no longer an issue either. And I am spending a lot less money yet still have access to car when I need one,” she said.
She also says she feels better for it: “I walk more because I was becoming a bit of a couch potato with my own car. I use public transport regularly. If I need a car for work then I know I can just book one for exactly when I need it. It’s also good to know I am doing my bit for the environment by taking a car off the road.”
Businessman, Daniel Thomas Oluwole, who has relinquished his £43,000 BMW, also says he is saving a significant amount of money: “Instead of buying a car for £40k you can buy a cheap car for £200 or £500, but it will always cost an arm and a leg to maintain in the long run. Even if you buy a reasonable car, you have to get finance for it for a number of years. That is just the capital. Then you have to consider maintenance, the London congestion charge, possible fines from forgetting to pay the congestion charge and the cost of fuel.
“I didn’t think my Beemer was worth it the insurance the tax and all the other costs which are invisible - even the petrol. That’s why I decided to opt for joining a car sharing club. I still have the freedom of using a car without owning it. I can drop it off anytime and pick it up at anytime. Conversely, with traditional commercial car hire companies you have hire it for 24 hours or the full weekend when a few hours is all I need. That’s very convenient,” he said.
London Mayor, Boris Johnson, says he is a fan of the idea: “Car clubs are a fantastic way for Londoners to cut their motoring costs and help cut CO2 in the capital. For each car club vehicle on the streets it's estimated that six privately owned cars are taken off the road,” he said.
Car clubs offer pay-as-you-go access to a car and vehicles can be booked as little as half an hour at a time by telephone or the internet. They are located in dedicated bays and accessed via the member's smart card.
April 5, 2009