LIVE in a big city and want the flexibility of having a car only when you need one but without the expense of buying your own or paying tax on a company car? Then a car club – car sharing -could be the answer.
With a car club you have access to a choice of new cars and vans parked in an area where you live or work
Car clubs are big business on the Continent but while not so big in Britain they are catching on fast, especially in new developments where parking can be limited and there are incentives to share electric cars.
Alphabet has AlphaCity and AlphaElectric with its car sharing schemes being adopted both in the public sector up to government level and, for example, with McCarthy & Stone for its retirement home development network in 1,000 locations.
What is the appeal of a car club?
The cost of owning a car can really add up. Insurance, servicing, company car tax and parking permits to name but a few. Yet for most of the time that car is parked up, not being used but costing you money.
With a car club you have access to a choice of new cars and vans parked in an area where you live or work, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
The vehicles are serviced and maintained by the club concerned, and you only pay for them when you need them, not when you don’t.
Members of the club pay a registration fee and can drive a choice of models on a pay-per-minute basis.
Access to the vehicles is via a smartphone app or bank card. Insurance, car tax, car parking and congestion charges are all included.
Normally you can reserve a car for whatever period suits you, from as little as half an hour to as long as you need it.
With some car clubs you return the vehicle to the same reserved parking bay you collected it from so you know there is no hassle with parking when you return it. Others offer the facility of a one-way system, where you leave the car or van at a different location if that is more convenient to your needs on the day.
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Currently there are 170,000 car club members in London, but it has been estimated that there could be as many as 800,000 by the end of the decade.
One advantage is that you can commute by public transport and then use a car club vehicle if you need to go out at work.
The latest club in the capital is BMW’s DriveNow, which offers a fleet which includes the MINI and the company’s electric i3 model.
The world’s biggest car club is Zipcar, which also offers a salary sacrifice company membership scheme.
Employees exchange a portion of their pre-tax salary and save up to 40% on their Zipcar usage for work or private use. Employers save on their National Insurance contributions while providing a great employee benefit.