Published by The Department for Transport (DfT) – Making Car Sharing and Car Clubs Work, A Good Practice Guide, offers fleets valuable advice and tips on implementing and running a successful car club.
A car club works in a similar way to a pool car fleet , but a company only pays for the time the vehicle is in use, therefore saving money.
A supplier, often a rental company, makes a vehicle available for use by a set group of people with a programmed key fob. Members, who pay a fee to be part of the group, can then ring and book the car by the hour, or book it via the internet. They are then charged per hour, per mile, or both.
Hi-technology systems mean the vehicle can be controlled electronically, so it only responds to the right person’s key fob at the right time. A key benefit of the scheme is that when drivers are not using the cars, it isn’t costing the employer a penny, unlike with pool cars.
The aim of the guide, the DfT says, is to provide ‘help on the delivery of car sharing and car club schemes for specific organisations and communities’.
The document is the outcome of a study carried out this year into the effectiveness of current UK schemes. It uses information gained from more than 20 case studies and reports. One of the fundamental findings to emerge from the study is how much money fleets could save by introducing a car-sharing scheme.
The guide states: ‘Assuming an average running cost of £400 per parking space, a site employing 2,000 staff is likely to reduce car parking costs by between £100,000 and £300,000 per year – even more in urban areas.’
However, for a scheme to succeed, the guide stresses companies must have ‘a clear understanding of the business case for promoting car sharing, including an appreciation of the full costs it currently bears for providing car parking’.
Among the providers of car clubs is Urbigo, from Avis. Members pay an initial membership fee, then just pay for the time they use the car and the mileage. Urbigo is currently available in Sutton, Southwark and Oxford, with a private scheme in Deptford. In London, signing up to Urbigo means drivers do not have to pay the £5 a day congestion charge.
The benefits of car sharing
Tips for implementing a workplace car club
EIGHT STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL CAR CLUB
1. THE ROLE OF THE CO-ORDINATOR OR FLEET MANAGER
Car clubs that have committed coordinators with full support of the car club promoting organisation are likely to be the most successful
2. A STRONG BRAND AND MARKETING CAMPAIGN
A diverse and visual marketing campaign is essential and will include posters, leaflets, road shows, press, TV, radio and advertisements
3. INITIAL USERS
Car clubs can take between nine and 18 months to establish. Potential users will seek assurance that the scheme is operating effectively before they commit financially to it
4. DEDICATED PARKING SPACES ADEQUATELY ENFORCED
The provision of dedicated parking spaces is a major incentive
The availability of secure funding enhances the chance of long-term success. Schemes that develop on low or inadequate budgets will generally fail to establish themselves in the long term
6. EFFECTIVE PARTNERSHIPS
Car clubs are not a stand- alone solution. They work best in areas where there are good quality alternatives to the car, good local facilities, regular public transport links and safe cycleways and walkways
7. PROVISION OF A SUITABLE NUMBER OF VEHICLES
This is a basic requirement of any car club and directly affects whether the club can meet user needs. Car club users will only support the scheme if they feel that a vehicle will be available for them, when they need it
8. LEAD BY EXAMPLE
For a club to succeed the DfT says that ‘senior managers must be seen to be leading by example either through car sharing themselves, or through allocating sufficient incentives for sharers’