New mobility options: car clubs

New mobility options - car clubs front cover
This report provides an overview of the car club market, defining the different models before exploring their benefits and then considerations for councils to ensure the benefits are realised.

Foreword

Steer have been commissioned by the Local Government Association to undertake research on two new mobility options: car clubs and shared micromobility. For car clubs, in addition to a magazine article, roundtable with councillors and a webinar, a summary report has been produced. The summary report included here seeks to provide an overview of the car club market, defining the different models before exploring their benefits and then considerations for councils to ensure the benefits are realised.

Introduction

Car clubs provide access to shared vehicles on a trip-by-trip basis and are available in various locations across the UK, often alongside other shared mobility modes including shared bikes and shared e-scooters. Car clubs are a means of sharing the use of a car between different people allowing individual drivers and households to experience the benefits of access to a car, while reducing and often removing the need to own and maintain one. Car clubs provide access to shared vehicles to members on a pay as you drive basis. Car club vehicles generally include smaller hatchback type models, but some operators include vans. Car club vehicles tend to be newer than the average privately owned vehicle and operators are evolving their fleets to offer an increasing number of electric vehicles (EVs).

Car clubs can be found across the world with Europe representing around half of the global car club market. Germany is currently the largest car sharing market in Europe, with over 200 operators and services offered in over 840 cities and municipalities. Germany’s success and market size can be attributed to supportive policy such as the introduction of a car sharing law in 2017, population densities and a cultural history of car sharing. Specifically, the German car sharing law sought to enable local authorities to create public parking spaces that are available for use only by cars that are part of a car sharing scheme (i.e. a car club). Prior to the introduction of this law, over 90 per cent of shared cars were parked in private parking spaces due to the lack of availability of on-street public parking spaces.

The UK is also one of the Europe’s stronger markets: there are currently over 780,000 car club members with nearly 5,000 vehicles. London is the largest car club market in the UK with over 3,200 vehicles. The number of car club members have increased threefold since 2016 showing strong evidence that people are increasingly recognising the benefits of car clubs. The main car club companies in the UK as accredited by CoMoUK are Co Cars, Co Wheels, Enterprise Car Club, Hiyacar, Ubeeqo, and Zipcar. To provide a comparison, car club membership in the UK is relatively low, representing only around 0.5 per cent of the population compared to 3 per cent in Germany.

The potential of the car club market in the UK is significant. For example, a recent study by Steer, focusing on 15 UK cities and city regions, conservatively estimated that 108,000 households could switch from private car ownership to using flexible car clubs. This is focusing on select geographies and a particular model of car clubs but it gives a sense of the untapped potential that car clubs could provide.

Similarly, a recent Element Energy study estimated, based on population density data, that there is potential for deployment of up to 34,000 car club cars across England and Wales. With census data indicating 78 per cent of households have access to at least one car/van, the potential for the car club market could be considerable. Further, when considering that private car ownership is inefficient with private cars spending over 95 per cent of their time parked, car clubs could be a much more efficient solution.

There are different types of car club models available in the UK, which are broadly categorised by CoMoUK as the following:

  • Back-to-bay: This is the most common form of a car club in the UK whereby cars must be returned to their unique designated parking place.
  • Back-to-area: This is similar to the back-to-bay model, but rather than returning the car to a designated parking place, it is usually returned to a small defined area, typically a street or two.
  • One-way / flex: the car can be taken on a one-way trip and parked on-street wherever it is legal to do so (sometimes including pay and display bays).
  • Peer-to-peer: people offer privately-owned vehicles for rent to others via an online platform, which also provides insurance. This option can be offered in areas where a car club model would not be economically viable.
  • Community car clubs: A community car club is a local, member-based initiative that provides access to self-service, pay as you drive vehicles.

Car clubs support transport decarbonisation by reducing car ownership, introducing cleaner vehicles onto our roads and encouraging active travel. This is particularly pertinent with the UK government launching their Transport Decarbonisation Strategy with their commitment to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 and with many councils declaring a climate emergency. Furthermore, it is understood that the Government’s forthcoming updated Local Transport Plan (LTP) guidance will recognise the need to respond to climate and environmental challenges along with new transport technologies, which car clubs can support. In addition, with the current cost of living crisis, car clubs can provide a timely relief as a cheaper transport alternative.

This report provides an overview of car clubs and is structured as follows:

  • Section one: How car clubs can contribute to LTPs and transport decarbonisation:
    • presenting benefits of car clubs such as their mode shift potential and reduction in car ownership; and
    • exploring how councils can support car clubs by summarising key considerations required for successful car club development.
  • Section two: Frequently asked questions (FAQ).

The data sources used in the development of this report are covered in the References section. The Department for Transport’s (DfT) Car Club Toolkit and various reports published by CoMoUK are of particular note in this regard.

Section one: How car clubs can contribute to Local Transport Plans and transport decarbonisation

Introduction

Car clubs can provide a range of benefits to councils, residents and businesses if the right conditions are in place for their benefits to be realised. This section explores:

  • car club benefits and how they can contribute to LTPs and transport decarbonisation
  • how councils can support car clubs by exploring key considerations required for successful implementation of car clubs in the UK.

Benefits

Cleaner vehicles

Car club vehicles are typically newer and, therefore, are more likely to have better emission ratings. The average age of a car club is 1.6 years compared to eight years for private car ownership. 100 per cent of car club vehicles in the UK are low emission and clear air zone compliant. Car clubs have a greater proportion of vehicles which are hybrid or electric. In the UK, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) comprise 11 per cent of the current UK car club fleet, compared to 1 per cent of private vehicles.

Private car ownership reduction

Surveys of members show that one car club car in the UK removes 20 private cars from the road. This can relieve parking pressures for councils in addition to reducing congestion and improving air quality.

Congestion reduction

By removing private cars from the roads, car clubs have the potential to reduce congestion. The average occupancy rate of car club vehicles also tends to be higher compared to private cars. With car club vehicles used on a time basis, users tend to be more sensitive to the frequency and length of their journeys and thus do not travel by car for unnecessary trips. Car clubs can also alleviate the stress of searching for a parking space with designated parking bays or areas, something which in private vehicles can worsen congestion.

Increasing sustainable and active travel

Car clubs can lead to increase in sustainable and active travel use with their members being more inclined to use sustainable transport modes. The CoMoUK 2021 car club annual report revealed that 61 per cent of car club members used public transport at least once a week. This compares to the national average of only 19 per cent of people using a local bus at least once a week. The report also found that 37 per cent of users had used a bicycle once a week, compared to the national average of 20 per cent. In general, there is usually some walking involved to get to/from the car club bays, which involves physical activity.

There are emerging examples where car club operators and public transport operators collaborate. For example, Go North East and Co Wheels formed a partnership whereby the Go North East smartcard season ticket was combined with a car club membership including free membership, £30 driving credit and no monthly subscription fee.

When car clubs are introduced as part of a Mobility Hub, it can help further incentivise public transport and active travel use. Mobility Hubs bring together shared and public and active transport modes in spaces designed to improve the public realm for all. For example, in this context, car clubs allow space to be reallocated from private cars. In Europe, Mobility Hubs are more established, particularly in Germany and Norway. There are several Mobility Hubs which are in development in the UK with only a handful of hubs that have been implemented so far. In Musselburgh one was developed in conjunction with SEStran and includes car club, bike share, public transport, wayfinding, and streetscape elements. A small Mobility Hub has been introduced in the London Borough of Redbridge, which includes a community café, planting, car club, EV charging, space to include micromobility and is in close proximity to South Woodford Underground Station.

Air quality improvements

All of the above factors help contribute to reduced emissions and improved air quality. It is estimated that the average club car in the UK produces 27 per cent less CO, 89 per cent lower NOₓ and 72 per cent lower PM2.5 emissions compared to the average UK car. These metrics are based on the equivalent per kilometre travelled, there are further emissions reductions on the basis of fewer kilometres driven.

Cheaper transport alternative

Car clubs can provide a cheaper alternative, and only affordable option for many, to car ownership. For example, 22 per cent of households in England do not have access to a car or van. In the context of today’s cost of living concerns this is particularly beneficial with the Travel Better toolkit highlighting car clubs as a key tool to support this. CoMoUK’s 2021 report states that 20 per cent of car club members cited cost as a barrier to owning a car and the main reason for joining a car club. Car clubs eliminate the costs of repairs, maintenance, depreciation, insurance, fuel (Fuel is usually covered by car club operators up to a certain amount of miles), and tax. Car clubs can also provide an alternative and cheaper route to EV uptake given EVs have much higher upfront costs than Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles. It is worth noting that the potential savings are dependent on a user’s typical annual mileage.

Inclusive transport alternative

Car club operators are introducing new initiatives to make the benefits of car clubs available to a wider demographic, particularly those who may be physically unable to drive. For example, Enterprise provides the option to add a ‘surrogate’ driver to a car club membership account free of charge. The surrogate drivers can then undertake the driving duties and ensure the physically impaired customers can still enjoy the benefits and flexibility of car clubs. CoMoUK survey data suggests car club members cover a range of incomes with as many people coming from the wealthy groups as those on more limited budgets. Similarly for age, there is a relatively even spread between the 25-54 age groups.

What can councils do to support car clubs?

There are a number of ways councils can support and promote car clubs. As demonstrated in the previous section, there are an array of benefits that car clubs can provide to councils. However, there are several considerations that a council needs to understand to support car club deployment and ensure successful implementation.

Supporting infrastructure – parking

Car clubs cannot operate without appropriate parking provision, be that dedicated bays or on-street parking permits. Councils, therefore, have an integral role to play in providing car clubs with access to parking bays and issuing parking permits. For car clubs which will operate from a fixed, dedicated parking bay (one-way, back-to-bay models), traffic regulation orders (TROs) will need to be amended to re-designate bays for exclusive car club use which includes the provision of a sign and lines to mark out the bay.

Supporting infrastructure – EV charging

EV car clubs need access to EV charging points. The provision of EV charging points depends on the car club operating model. For back-to-bay or back-to-area, it could involve chargers dedicated to car club use, either on-street or in a car park, facilitated by a TRO. Double headed charging points could be used to serve both an EV car club vehicle and publicly accessible vehicle in a twin bay.

Currently for one-way/flex car clubs the operators typically manage the charging process for EV vehicles. If the density of charging stations could measurably increase, the charging needs of both users and operators could be further supported and allow more EV car club vehicles to be introduced. For the one way / flex model for example, operators will need to supplement user charging and thus rapid chargers and/or dedicated fast chargers is important. Currently, charging can involve dead mileage to access charge points and thus a greater density of charging stations is important to reduce this element but also to not discriminate against the cleanest form of car use (shared). Additionally, as previously mentioned, car clubs provide access to EVs at a small fraction of the cost of owning/leasing and thus there is an equity element to providing adequate EV charging infrastructure. Given the strong decarbonisation delivery of car clubs, it is important infrastructure policy and practice should go further.

Parking permits

Councils need to consider their parking permit policy for car clubs as part of their wider parking permit policy. Councils may impose car parking charges as per their statutory powers deriving from the Road Traffic Regulation Act (RTRA) 1984. However, the RTRA does not authorise the Council to use its powers to charge local residents increased parking charges with the purpose of raising surplus revenue for other transport purposes. Councils should be cognisant of the RTRA limitations when considering their permit approach for car club operators. Given the benefits that car clubs can provide, there is an argument that councils should remove or reduce parking permit fees associated with car clubs (both the application and the annual fee). Councils should seek to ensure any permit pricing policy does not deter operators from entering the market. Councils could adopt a more flexible approach with permits to promote a more equitable car club provision. For example, to encourage growth out of more profitable areas, permit fees could be graded with the location (i.e. cheaper permit for less profitable areas). Alternatively, permits could be granted in pairs with the higher value permit only awarded with commitment to implementing a car club in areas with greater social benefits, but expected lower levels of initial demand.

In context of the climate crisis and considering there are approximately 5,000 car club vehicles vs 32 million private cars in the UK, it is important to look at parking policies more holistically and how private cars are being charged vs shared ones.

For one way / flex car club models, councils should seek to offer a corresponding flexible parking permit for purchase by car club operators. This permit can allow the flexible car club vehicle to park in any on-street marked bay (excluding disabled bays).

Examples of permissive approaches to parking permits with car clubs include Brighton where car club parking permit fees are significantly reduced. In the London Borough of Lewisham, a ‘floating’ car club permit was introduced to allow a set number of car club vehicles to park in controlled spaces across the borough. These permits allow car club vehicles to be parked in the borough with a maximum number assigned to the operator. This is just one example of a much more widespread trend.

Procurement

There are several factors for councils to consider when procuring a car club operator(s). CoMoUK have developed guidance on car club procurement which is particularly helpful in this regard. Firstly, a procurement model should be selected. Whilst councils should seek their own legal advice when directly procuring services or entering into any partnerships, the main procurement models include:

  • Concession model: whereby councils invite a car club operator to serve their area without funding the scheme. In this model, the car club operator generates income from customer revenue rather than any funding or fee from the council. The operator has flexibility in the operational decisions as it bears the financial risk. This approach would likely involve a request for proposal (RFP) to be issued by the council.
  • Traditional services arrangement: the operator will charge the council for providing the scheme (typically including a level of car club usage for council staff) and has more certainty over payment. This approach may be adopted whereby there are more ambitious plans with coverage, a higher percentage of EVs are expected or a specified service is required. This approach would typically involve a full tender process under a public contracts regulation (PCR).

For both procurement approaches, the contract length is ultimately within the councils’ control. However, in the UK to date, typical contracts are three years, often with one plus year type extensions. Awarding contracts for much longer than three years is not typically recommended given the car club market evolves more quickly than some other transport markets.

For each procurement model, there are a number of considerations that councils will need to consider for inclusion in their RFPs or tenders including but not limited to:

  • Type of a car club model: this is arguably the most important aspect to consider as this has an impact on other decisions such as parking provision, permit consideration, area size and overall customer satisfaction.
  • Location of bays/area of operation: depending on the model, councils need to decide the operating area that should apply for car clubs. For example, for back-to-bay, councils will need to work closely with operators to define bay locations. Whereas with one-way / flex models, councils will need to define the operational zone and any locations where parking is not permitted (e.g. busy high-streets).
  • Accredited car club operators: councils should include accreditation as a requirement for a successful bidder. CoMoUK offer an accreditation scheme which provides clarity and reassurance via an agreed set of standards. The accreditation aims to reduce repetition of work for both councils and operators and boosts confidence in the sector.
  • Parking permit approach: councils need to consider their overall approach to car club parking permits in context of their overall parking permit approach. It is important councils price their permits accordingly so that their area is attractive for prospective operators recognising the potential benefits car clubs can provide. Introducing a low-cost permit is likely to be a better approach to encourage operators to come to market and ensure schemes are commercially viable. In addition to the pricing of permits, permits may need to be adapted according to the different car club model. For example, a permit for a designated parking place (used for back-to-bay model), one that applies to a street or two (back-to-area) or a wider area where vehicles can be parked in multiple locations (one way / flex).
  • Number of operators: the scale and type of car club scheme are important factors to consider with regards to the number of operators. Introducing more than one operator can ensure standards and performance remains high with competition driving quality and innovation and increased investment to develop the network. In larger more densely populated areas, there may be sufficient demand to justify more than one operator. Whilst an additional provider can offer users with a wider choice and potentially differing models, there are downsides such as creating a confusing customer proposition with multiple brands, additional registration requirements, additional membership costs and potentially different booking processes required per operator (e.g. different phone apps).
  • Alignment with EV procurement: if a council is separately considering introducing EV charging points, there should be consideration of how this aligns with car club parking bays. Similarly, for any new development, EV charging points coupled with a car club bay should be encouraged. CoMoUK have developed guidance for introducing EVs in car club schemes to help in this regard.
  • Data sharing: councils may wish to include requirements on data reporting in their procurement specification. Due to the on-board vehicle telematics and booking process, car club vehicles generate detailed and potentially highly useful data on journey patterns. The capacity of transport officers to make use of this data should be considered in any data specifications.

Local Context - introducing car clubs in rural areas

Local context is important when considering which model is more appropriate for a particular area. In more rural areas, with lower population density and, therefore, likely lower demand, consideration of the commercial viability of a car club scheme is important. The formal tender approach, with council support, may be more viable in order to attract an operator to the area as a concession model may not be financially sustainable.

In rural or more dispersed areas, a community or peer-to-peer model car club may also be a more suitable option, particularly from an economic perspective. A council can help to set up and promote a community or peer-to-peer car club. Placing vehicles at community hubs, such as village halls, is also likely to encourage take up. CoMoUK have developed useful guidance for community car club sharing.

Derwent Valley Car Club in Gateshead is an example of a rural car club. It was set up in 2013 with support from a National Lottery grant. The vehicle is based at the community centre and is coupled with an electric charging point. The grant also provided funding for solar panels which offset much of the electrical charging need to run the vehicle, making the scheme emission free.

An alternative option introduced in Oxford, is the use of a closed loop peer-to-peer service. In September 2021, a trial was facilitated by Hiyacar and the Oxford-based neighbourhood car sharing group, ShareOurCars. The scheme ensures that those who wish to share or borrow cars on their street, are able to share their cars only between themselves, through a closed loop. Only those that are a part of the trial can search for and book the cars available in their loop, through the Hiyacar app. This is just another example of adapting a car club model to meet local needs.

Marketing & public awareness

Whilst the number of car club vehicles and members in the UK has been growing in the past five years, it is still a relatively new concept for many people. It is, therefore, important that both car club operators and councils promote the service to ensure its uptake and benefits are optimised. Awareness can also be achieved through the physical infrastructure itself, for example, ensuring the car club bays and vehicles are distinctive and clearly marked. The parking permit renewal process can also be a good opportunity to advertise car clubs. Mobility Hubs can also increase visibility and raise awareness of car clubs.

Mobility Hubs: In Bremen, Germany, their network of Mobility Hubs which include car club vehicles (10 large Mobility Hubs and 33 small Mobility Hubs) has had several benefits for the city. Whilst there are a package of measures that have led to its success, specifically for car clubs, the result of the Mobility Hubs includes the kilometres travelled by car in a ‘carsharing household’ are more than 50 per cent lower than the average household in Bremen, whilst a study in 2018 shows that on average each car club car in Bremen has replaced 16 private cars.

Stakeholder engagement

There are several stakeholders and decision makers that are involved in development of a car club scheme. This can range from elected members through to various council teams such as procurement, sustainable transport, press office and parking. It is important that all teams are kept informed and engaged for relevant decision-making milestones.  

Funding

There is no central government fund dedicated to supporting car clubs in England or Wales. However, there are various funding options that can be explored to support roll-out of a car club scheme including:

  • Privately funded: a car club operator funds the entire scheme, which is typically achieved via a concession model although with this option this may limit the provision.
  • Developer contributions: this is whereby councils leverage funding through Section 106 or Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to provide a dedicated pot of money towards car clubs. Some examples are provided later on in this report.
  • Council supported: councils can support car club schemes by replacing their own pool car fleet or “grey” vehicles (i.e. private vehicles staff use for council related journeys) with car club vehicles. This can provide a minimum level of demand for car club operators and when the vehicles are not used by the Council staff, they can be offered up to the public. For commercial car club viability, utilisation of the vehicle is important.  Where residential demand is lower, this can be supported by business use and also local authority use.  In some locations the launch of a car club has been enabled by the ‘block booking’ of certain cars for council use to replace pool cars, or use of private cars for council business. For example, North Ayrshire Council previously incorporated Enterprise car club vehicles into its fleet and as a result cut grey fleet CO₂ emissions by 37 per cent within 18 months. It is worth noting that whilst there is a tax relief available on company cars and company bicycles, there is no tax relief for joining a car club. The CoMoUK employer action kit can help councils in this context.
  • Community based car clubs: as trailed in the introduction, this is where a car club scheme is typically funded by a grant making body with running costs supported by volunteers and joint ventures.
  • Parking permits: can provide some revenue, but caution should be applied in considering to significantly increase this beyond residential parking bays so as not to deter operators from coming to market. From an environmental perspective, there is an argument that permits for car clubs should be lower than private car permits.

There are also alternative community owned funding solutions which can be used:

  • Community Interest Companies (CIC) exist to benefit the community rather than private shareholders. CICs can raise investment from a range of sources including shares but there is a cap on the return on investment. For example, a car club operator Co-Wheels is set up as a CIC.
  • There are car club operators in the UK that are set up as a Community Benefit Society (CBS), such as the operator co-cars. A CBS is set up to conduct business for the benefit of their community. Profits are not distributed among members, or external shareholders, but returned to the community. A CBS can raise finance using a range of sources including community shares at all stages (this is the model that co-cars use).

Developer contributions

For new housing developments, Section 106/Section 75 is a lever that councils can explore by requiring developers to establish a car club as a direct contribution towards set up or operating costs (Note: Section 106 applies to England and Wales, Section 75 to Scotland). For example, the London Borough of Lambeth include a provision for sustainable transport infrastructure in their S106 planning document should any new development generate new transport demand. This document by Lambeth specifically recommends car clubs as one mitigation to achieve this. For major developments, developers are expected to provide free or subsidised memberships for a significant portion of the residential units in addition to parking bays on-site and/or a payments made to the council to provide on-street parking bays for car clubs. Similarly, Leeds City Council developed supplementary planning guidance which requires developers to fund memberships for car clubs at new developments. In the Leodis Square development, this policy has been implemented which has seen 61 residents join the car club scheme. This is particularly important as this development has a ratio of 0.3 spaces per unit.

A couple of recent examples of using S106 include:

  • London Borough of Haringey: New River Village, Enterprise Car Club has introduced three cars via S106 funding as part of the development.
  • Tunbridge Wells/Kent County Council: Two car club vehicles introduced in 2014 as a pilot with S106 funding (along with operator funding and financial support from Kent County Council). Initial success led to the scheme expanding to five vehicles. There is a current request to expand the scheme with additional S106 support.

In Scotland, developer contributions are also used to help fund car club schemes, for example:

  • Aberdeen City Council have developed a mechanism for car club contributions to be used as part of the “Planning Obligations” and “Transport and Accessibility” supplementary guidance to its 2017 Local Development Plan. Their policy makes explicitly calls out the need for car club provision: “To continue to facilitate and promote the car club in order to provide transport choice without necessitating individual car ownership.” Since 2017, £266,000 has been paid to the car club from 42 planning applications. This has funded eight cars and several memberships. In the future they hope the refreshed planning guidance in 2022 will ensure that car clubs are automatically included within developments rather than only in scenarios with parking shortfalls.

CoMoUK have developed guidance for new developments and cutting car dependency which can help councils in this regard.

Section two: Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is a car club?

A car club is a means of sharing a car or a van between different people, allowing individual drivers and households to experience the benefits of access to a car, while reducing and often removing the cost and need to own and maintain one. Car clubs provide access to shared vehicles to members on a pay as you drive basis. 

There are different types of car club models but broadly they can be categorised as follows, as outlined by CoMoUK: 

  • Back-to-bay: This is the most common form of a car club in the UK whereby cars must be returned to their unique designated parking place.
  • Back-to-area: This is similar to the back-to-bay model, but rather than returning the car to a designated parking place, it is usually returned to a small defined area, typically a street or two.
  • One-way / flex: the car can be taken on a one-way trip and parked on-street wherever it is legal to do so (sometimes including pay and display bays).
  • Peer-to-peer: people offer privately-owned vehicles for rent to others via an online platform, which also provides insurance. This option can be offered in areas where a car club model would not be economically viable.
  • Community car clubs: A community car club is a local, member-based initiative that provides access to self-service, pay as you drive vehicles.

How large is the UK car club market?

The UK is also one of the Europe’s stronger markets: there are currently over 780,000 car club members with nearly 5,000 vehicles. London is the largest car club market in the UK with over 3,200 vehicles. The number of car club members have increased threefold since 2016 showing strong evidence that people are increasingly recognising the benefits of car clubs. The major car club companies in the UK are Co Cars, Co Wheels, Enterprise Car Club, Hiyacar, Ubeeqo, and Zipcar. However, the UK’s membership figures represent only around 0.5 per cent of the population compared to 3 per cent in Germany.

How do car clubs help address congestion?

By removing private cars from the roads, car clubs have the potential to reduce congestion. The average occupancy rate of car club vehicles also tends to be higher compared to private cars.  With car club vehicles used on a time basis, users tend to be more sensitive the length of their journeys and thus do not travel for unnecessary journeys by car. Car clubs can also alleviate the stress of searching for a parking space with designated parking bays or areas, something which in private vehicles can worsen congestion.

How do car clubs impact air quality?

Through private ownership reduction and by extension less driving, increased active travel and overall cleaner vehicles with car clubs, they have a positive impact on air quality, contributing to reduced emissions and improved air quality. It is estimated that the average club car in the UK produces 27 per cent less CO, 89 per cent lower NOₓ and 72 per cent lower PM2.5 emissions compared to the average UK car.v As trailed in the introduction, this is particularly important in combatting climate change and achieving emission targets.

How do car clubs impact active travel uptake?

Car clubs can lead to increase in sustainable and active travel use with their members being more inclined to use sustainable transport modes. The CoMoUK 2021 car club annual report revealed that 61 per cent of car club members used public transport at least once a week. The report also found that 37 per cent of users had used a bicycle once a week, compared to the national average of 20 per cent. Previous CoMoUK surveys show a similar trend highlighting the sustained relationship car club usage can have with public transport uptake. In general, there is usually some walking involved to get to/from the car club bays, which involves physical activity. When car clubs are introduced as part of a Mobility Hub, it can help further incentivise public transport and active travel use.

How can councils promote or support car clubs?

There are a number of ways councils can support and promote car clubs. As demonstrated in this report, there are an array of benefits that car clubs can provide to councils. However, there are several considerations that a council needs to understand to support car club deployment ensure successful implementation including but not limited to: parking provision, parking permit policy, EV infrastructure provision, marketing, stakeholder engagement, replacement of council pool cars and grey fleet with car clubs.

What are the different procurement options for a council to introduce a car club?

There are typically two procurement paths for councils to adopt when considering introducing a car club scheme. One is a concession model, whereby councils invite a car club operator to serve their area without funding the scheme. This model puts the risk onto the operator who typically have flexibility in operational decisions with income generated from customer revenue. This approach is usually aligned with an RFP when going out to market. The second approach is a traditional services arrangement, whereby the operator will charge the authority for providing the scheme and have more certainty over payment. This approach may be adopted whereby there are more ambitious plans with coverage, a higher percentage of EVs are expected or a specified service is required. This approach would typically involve a full tender process under a public contracts regulation (PCR).

What are the different options for funding a car club scheme?

There are a range of options for funding a car club scheme. Firstly, they can be privately funded by car club operators, whereby revenue risk sits with the operators and there is little to no contribution from councils beyond officer time and TRO requirements if needed. Councils can reduce the revenue risk by either guaranteeing a minimum number of booked hours. This could be through a financial contribution or by replacing Council pool cars and grey fleet vehicles with car club vehicles. In this scenario, when car club vehicles are not in use by council staff, such as in the evenings and at weekends, they can be made available to members of the public. Other funding options include developer contributions, either through Section 106 or CIL. Finally, Community Car Clubs can be a means for funding a car club scheme, typically done through a grant making body with running costs supported by volunteers and joint ventures.

How do car clubs differ between rural and urban settings?

Car clubs are predominantly in urban settings in the UK given the density, population and ability for alternative journeys to be undertaken by active travel or public transport, making them more viable markets commercially. Nonetheless, not all urban areas are the same and there is a need for supportive conditions, such as density of parking, good public transport, cycling infrastructure and nearby amenities. Rural car clubs are being introduced in the UK and with alternative models such as peer-to-peer and community car clubs, these are alternative more economically viable options for councils to consider. As with urban areas, there is a variety within rural areas too with supporting conditions important.