IIt’s been two years since Richard Scarborough ditched his aging diesel vehicle in favor of motor clubs, and the 60-year-old graphic designer from Hackney says he never sees himself going back.
In Oxford, Emily Kerr is part of a carshare in which 20 households share seven vehicles belonging to neighbours. She’s so thrilled with how it turned out that she’s started helping others set up similar programs.
Scarborough and Kerr are among a growing number of people who have discovered that it’s perfectly possible to get around without owning the car they drive by renting or sharing one an hour at a time.
“Most cars sit idle the vast majority of the time, so it makes perfect sense for communities to share them,” Kerr says. “It’s better for the environment, and it’s definitely better for your bank balance.”
It’s been six months since she set up ShareOurCars in East Oxford and she says it’s hard to imagine how it could have gone better. It’s a ‘closed-loop’ car-sharing scheme, meaning only those who live locally can use it, provided they don’t have a bad driving history.
The group has teamed up with car-sharing provider hiyacar, which vets new entrants, provides the online booking system and the most important insurance. The cars are owned by individual plan members.
Two months into the project, Kerr sold the Honda family SUV to use the shared vehicles instead.
“There are five cars within a five-minute walk of my house,” she said. “If I need to use a car I log in and reserve it, paying around £7 an hour for short journeys – under an hour for longer journeys. We have a WhatsApp group to talk to us. And if I needed a car urgently, I would be very surprised if I couldn’t get one right away.
She says she usually pays £90 to get a car for the weekend, usually borrowing it from someone who drives most days of the week but rarely on Saturdays and Sundays.
“Most people have fairly predictable driving habits, so you quickly know which car will be free at any given time,” she says.
She says the band hasn’t had any serious mishaps or disagreements. It helps that most owners see cars as a means of transportation rather than their pride and joy. To spend the summer holidays, she has just rented an MG electric car for four months, which will soon be carpooled to be shared by other users.
“Our car was costing us just over £300 a month in insurance, depreciation, maintenance, taxes etc. Over the past six months I would say we have spent an average of £100.”
In east London, the introduction of the capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone meant Scarborough had to sell its diesel car or pay a charge of £12.50 a day to use it.
“I thought about buying a newer car that would be Ulez compliant, but decided to try the car-sharing programs first, and I’m so glad I did,” says -he.
He typically uses his bike for short local trips, and a mix of car sources whenever he needs four wheels – the commercial Hiyacar and Zipcar sharing systems, or a conventional rental at the Sixt office not far from his home. .
“Getting a vehicle was never a problem. It really helps that there are so many car clubs in this area. I’m pretty much guaranteed to be able to get one, even at the very last minute,” he says.
“The cars are not luxury models, but they get the job done. Zipcar has vans which are sometimes useful.
On average, he pays around £10 an hour and his bill is usually £50 a month.
“I don’t have to worry about a big maintenance bill and I don’t add another unnecessary car down the road. Once you’re on board with how it works, it becomes normal. For our main summer holiday last year we took the train to Scotland and then hired a motorhome on arrival. In the past, we probably would have driven all the way,” he says.
Graeme Risby, chief executive and co-founder of Hiyacar, says the cost of living crisis means there’s never been a better time to try carpooling.
“For us, the motivation was to have fewer cars on the roads – for communities and neighbors to share vehicles that were often idle in front of people’s homes,” he says. “At the start (2016), we wanted people to post their cars on the platform, and we provided the insurance, with anyone able to borrow the car.
“We now see closed-loop systems as increasingly important, especially in rural areas. It seems people like to know that their car is being used by their close neighbors. As the national fleet goes electric these schemes will become the future as we know not everyone can afford an electric vehicle for £30,000-40,000.
you want to use where to install a carshare plan?
Provided you are at least 21 years old and have no more than 6 penalty points on your licence, it is easy to borrow a car-sharing car. There are now a multitude of clubs to choose from. Everything is organized online and it’s all about registering and uploading your driver’s license.
Zipcar may be the most well-known car club, but users say it has become more expensive. Hiyacar is another supplier worth checking out. There are plenty of cars in major UK cities – brand name cars owned by financial companies and standard cars owned by other households. For a two-hour hire of a Seat Ibiza in Bromley this weekend, Hiyacar offered us £11.72. His typical daily rate is £45. There is an insurance excess of £500 which means you must pay the first £500 of any damage you cause, although regular users are advised to purchase excess cover from £45 per year. Generally, you return the car with the same fuel as when picking up. Cars are photographed before and after sharing, so any damage is noted.
If you want to rent your car to neighbors, you can register with Hiyacar for free. You block out the times when you need the car, leaving it available for your neighbors to use at other times. The car is insured by the club, which means that your bonus-malus is not affected if a sharer has an accident, although you will have to face the disturbance of having it repaired.