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Car Clubs

Throughout Europe, car clubs are becoming a popular use-oriented service which essentially allows the customer to “pay per unit of mobility”[1] rather than buying a car.  Customers who are members of a car club can hire a car 24hrs a day for as little as an hour at a time.  Cars which are located at designated parking bays within a short walk from where customers live or work, can be booked through a central office using the telephone or internet. Keys are either kept at a nearby safe, or in the car, which is accessed using a smart card.  Drivers pay a monthly fee and are billed for hours hired and miles driven.

Car sharing "intensifies the use of cars, meaning a lower number of cars are needed... for a given demand of mobility.” [1] AutoShare a Canadian corporation that provides a car-sharing service estimates that every ’shared’ car on the road replaces 5 to 6 privately owned cars[1].  They also found that “members also tend to drive less than those with private cars, as it is in their interest to reduce the hourly costs associated with driving behaviour. This, in turn, reduces emissions which contribute to smog and climate change”. For those using a car for less than 12000km per year, car sharing can be cheaper than purchasing, insuring, cleaning and maintaining a private car[1]. A successful, efficient scheme should save consumers money, reduce consumer impact in an area (automotive) which is currently a high polluter, potentially can provide greater choice for consumers.  It could also be argued that schemes of this nature are socially more sustainable as they allow for a more healthy, active lifestyle by not having a car to hand for any journey.

ZED cars, the car club at BedZED (Beddington Zero Energy Development) in the London Borough of Sutton was the first new development in Britain to have a car club as an integral part of the design.  This helped underpin a case to reduce the usual parking provision by around 50%[2].

[1] Manzini, E. and C. Vezzoli, Product-Service Systems and Sustainability: Opportunities for sustainable solutions. 2002, France: United Nations Environment Programme, Division of Technology Industry and Economics (DTIE).
[2] Carplus, Case Studies. 2006. http://www.carplus.org.uk/carclubs/case-studies.htm

Image courtesy of CityCarClub (www.citycarclub.co.uk)