Car Club FAQ

How much does it cost to use a car club?

It varies, both by company and by car. Here are some examples. As of Jan 2018:

  • Oxford (Co-wheels) 25/year membership plus around 5.50/hour or 35/day and 18p/mile
  • Zipcar 60/year (6/month) membership plus around 6/hour or 50/day, mileage free up to 60 miles/day

The average car club hire is about 7 hours and 40 miles. If you did this once each month, over the year the cost would be 560/year for Zipcar or 530/year for Oxford. If you did shorter, more frequent trips e.g. 2 hours, 10 miles, twice a month, that comes to around 330/year for Oxford or 350/year for Zipcar. However, these charges are approximate and it depends on the car you drive. For example for Oxford, a Renault Zoe costs 5.50/hour whereas a Aygo is only 4.75/hour and a seven seater Verso is 7.25/hour/

Are car clubs cheaper than conventional hire cars?

Car clubs are optimised for short rents of a few hours and relatively frequent use. They can be expensive if you want to go away for a whole weekend or longer - it varies between clubs. If you are going a long way you need to watch out to see how much you are charged for mileage too.

From the point of view of sustainability, conventional hire is just as good (assuming the same kind of car). However, clearly it is more convenient if you don't have to decide each time you go away whether to use a club car or hire. Also, picking up a club car is usually more convenient than a hire car unless you happen to have a car hire very nearby

I am under 25. Will the insurance cover me?

The insurance details vary from one club to another. For Co-wheels the insurance has a higher excess for under 21s. Similarly, Zipcars has a higher excess for under 25s or anyone with points on their licence or a recent accident.

Can you guarantee there will always be a car when I want one?

No there are no guarantees about this. However it is interesting that people have different experiences in this regard. David from Norwich said he never had a problem whereas Anna in Cambridge said it was wise to book ahead especially at weekends. It seems likely that larger clubs with more cars are more likely to be able to satisfy demand at all times. That means we need to grow.

Are there restrictions on when I can pick up or drop off the car?

Club cars usually have a dedicated bay on the street somewhere so you can pick up or drop off at any time. Obviously you have to book first but you can book online at any time.

Can I have a one-way rental, so I don't have to bring the car back to where I started?

Very few car clubs allow you to hire a car and not bring it back to its bay. DriveNow is one, though you still have to leave the car within the car club zone when you finish. There are advantages to this sort of flexibility but there are also snags. Booking ahead is difficult because you don't know what cars will be where at some time in the future! DriveNow charges extra if you want to book more than 15 minutes in advance. It is a very different sort of service.

What kind of cars are available? How much can they carry? Do they have vans?

Most car clubs have a range of cars including estates as well as small cars. Most car clubs have a few vans as well as cars for when you need to carry a lot of stuff.

Wouldn't it be better to invest in public transport so we don't need car clubs?

Public transport is generally more energy efficiency than individual cars and we certainly need investment in buses and trains too. However, we do feel car clubs have a place, to fill in the gaps and make it possible for people to do what they need to do without running their own car. When people give up a car and join a car club instead they are more likely to use public transport than before (and also more likely to walk instead of drive which is healthy). Perhaps we won't need car clubs forever.

How much do car clubs reduce car ownership?

Transport for London says for each round-trip car club vehicle in London, 5.8 cars were removed from the road as a result of car club members selling a car, equating to almost 13,000 vehicles fewer cars in London. A further 30 per cent of survey respondents reported deferring the planned purchase of a car.

Where are there car clubs in the UK?

There are car clubs all over. As of 2016, there were 27,500 members using almost 1,100 vehicles in England & Wales outside London. Thriving car clubs include York, Manchester, Brighton and Hove, Leeds, Bristol and Oxford. The number of car clubs is increasing too - during 2015/2016 there were new ones in Salford, Derby, Newbury, Barnstaple and Carlisle.

Many car clubs are run by national operators and once you are a member you can use a car in other affiliated clubs. Zipcar lists Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Maidstone and Oxford in the UK (and others abroad too).

Car club operators in the UK include Zipcar, Co-wheels, Co-cars, Serco, Practical, Easy car club and many more. See here for a list.

Some places have more than one car club. For example Oxford has both Co-wheels and Zipcar.

Please take a few minutes to fill in our survey - we need your views on what sort of car clubs we want in Cambridge, where, and how much difference they can make.

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