Fleet News

EasyCar's expansion gives new hope for UK car clubs

EASYCAR'S Car Club has grown from a mere six vehicles to 27 during the past two months, with the group predicting that half its fleet could eventually be part of the scheme.

By using a club car rather than a pool vehicle, companies can reduce costs. Club cars are charged by the hour and usually operate on a staffless basis – easyCar drivers collect a vehicle which is unlocked electronically using GSM technology usually associated with mobile phones.

James Rothnie, director of corporate affairs at easyGroup, said: 'Car Club reduces our costs and allows us to offer lower prices to consumers. We see a big future in it and anything which improves efficiency and lowers prices is good business sense. There are also economical advantages as more people are using fewer cars.'

To become a member of easyCar's scheme, members need to have hired an easyCar on a previous occasion. This enables the Car Club to check customer credentials and prove that they are reliable and will not damage the vehicle.

EasyCar's club fleet is made up of Vauxhall Corsas which are kept for around a year and have a guaranteed resale value.

Rothnie said: 'We hold the cars and have a guaranteed buy-back policy from the manufacturer. We don't have any problems with wear and tear, as this is usually associated with mileage.'

Car clubs have been around for a few years now, some proving more successful than others. One of the first initiated, by Budget Car and Van Rental, had to cease trading due to high costs, lack of customers and vandalism problems.

The Avis-run CARvenience club scheme rebranded as Urbigo when it launched a new branch in London last year. Drivers have their own key fob, which only works if the car has been booked. The locking system is activated using telematics technology.

Support for car clubs was given in a Parliamentary written answer issued by the Government this month. The Department for Transport (Dft), said the number of car clubs was expected to increase and it would continue its research into the area.

The DfT added: 'Car clubs are likely to continue to grow in number and size. There are many barriers which hinder the implementation of car clubs, most of which are social and cultural factors unlikely to be resolved by action at central government level.

'Car clubs may have a useful role in delivering both local transport and land-use planning objectives in high-density urban areas which have both good public transport and parking restraints.'

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