Membership of Car Clubs Rises

A survey has shown that UK motorists have joined car clubs in large numbers over the last year, with saving money being a key incentive.

Membership has more than doubled at City Car Club in the past year since the credit crunch started mainly because car clubs are a much cheaper alternative to owning a car. But also the growth in broadband internet access in the UK has been a big factor because most people join and book the cars on the internet.

The survey by Transport Research Laboratory found that there are now 61,000 car club members across the UK. They asked City Car Club members how they had changed their motoring habits since joining a club, and they found that 41% of existing members and 39% of new joiners said they had reduced their car ownership.

In total it amounts to a reduction of 24,400 cars off the UK roads, and the growth of car clubs shows no signs of slowing in 2009. Taken along with the fact that car sales have dropped by over 25% in the UK, the survey shows a massive change in how UK motorists want to have access to a car.

Car clubs are basically pay-as-you-go rental schemes where members can book locally parked cars for as little as £3.96 an hour and 50 miles free petrol every day. The cars are parked in local clusters on the streets in convenient locations near to residents and businesses and can been booked on the internet or also at the car at a moment’s notice.

City Car Club is considerably cheaper than running a private car; over £1,800-a-year cheaper in some cases. Membership is £50 a year (£25 for partners) and £30 for business users, and this annual charge covers insurance, maintenance, depreciation, cleaning costs, and 50 miles free petrol every day.

According to AA figures, a second-hand Vauxhall Corsa doing 4,000 miles-a-year will cost £2,903 – a City Car doing the same mileage will cost just £1,065 – a saving of £1,838 – and that’s without including the cost of buying the car in the first place.

They can be used easily for the school run and the supermarket shopping, and in many cases families use the car club instead of an expensive second car. It’s much cheaper than owning a car because the club pays for all the insurance, maintenance, road tax and breakdown cover.

Using the car club is easy. Bookings can be made directly from the cars at a moment’s notice, on the internet or over the telephone on 0845 330 1234. Cars are parked in designated parking bays and once booked, members gain access with their smart enabled, personal membership card (totally keyless access). Their PIN is entered onto the in-car computer and then they just drive away. Journeys made are itemised on a monthly statement.

An example of a City Car Club member who joined in 2008 is Richard Vaughan, 36, a Technical Manager from Northolt Middlesex. He is married and has two young children.

Richard said: “I use the car club for business and personal use and I’m so pleased with the amount of money I have saved. We sold our second family car because there really was no need for it. So when I need the car for the school run I can book one at the click of a mouse, it’s brilliant.”

Richard joined City Car Club and spent around £600 over a 12-month period, saving £857 over the previous year when he spent £1,457 running his Citroen C2 1.1. This was comprised of £115 road tax, £133 RAC membership, £162.20 insurance, £270.25 maintenance (MOT/servicing), £777.17 fuel (cost of Motoring Index 2007 findings, RAC), £220 depreciation (average figure from Parkers Car Price Guide for a C2 1.1 – not including first year depreciation).