Car sharing schemes and clubs: the conclusive guide

  • Car sharing schemes and clubs are viable alternatives to public transport
  • Wide ranges of cars and vans available
  • Works much in the same as renting a car

Car sharing schemes

The rise of the car sharing schemes and car clubs is well documented and easy to understand. In big cities up and down the country, not only are the roads almost at bursting point, but there are ever increasing charges aimed at reducing traffic in urban areas to contend with.

But during times like these, it makes more sense than ever to avoid closed public spaces. Face masks are now required on mass transit systems, while social distancing measures mean that even if you do want to use public transport, there's less space than ever.

Cars are an obvious solution to this problem. And if you don't use one enough to warrant buying or leasing one, a car club, or a car sharing scheme, seems like an easy solution.

Research group Frost & Sullivan forecasted that the number of car sharers will increase nearly threefold between 2017 and 2025. While car manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes, Renault, and Skoda have all dipped their toe in the car sharing waters.

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Are car sharing systems/car clubs running during Coronavirus?

Generally, most are operating at the moment. But they're not working at the same capacity as pre-Coronavirus.

It's important to stress that different companies have different workarounds at the moment.

A spokesperson for leading car sharing company, Zipcar, told Parkers: 'We continue to be fully operational as we are deemed an essential service. In line with the UK government's advice on 10th May, we continue to ask all our members to only use Zipcars for essential journeys and when driving to and from work, when it cannot be done from home.'

Broadly, the advice is to only use car sharing schemes for essential trips. That means you can use car sharing schemes for shopping, medical needs, travelling to and from work, as well as getting out and about for exercise.

How does a car sharing service/car club work?

Car sharing scheme key

It's basically like an on-demand car rental scheme. But instead of heading to a depot in the middle of the wilderness, or even worse, an airport, you simply head out to where your nearest car share is located.

When we're talking about car sharing, there are two strands.

The first, is borrowing a new car that's part of a large fleet, belonging to a big company like Zipcar. While the other, like with firms such as Hiyacar, sees you borrowing an actual person's car.

With the former, you'll download an app, look for your nearest location, then pay some money. Then (this is where it gets clever) you make your way to that location, and your phone will work as a key to get into the car. From there there's sometimes a physical key (location will be sent to you) in the car, or a starter button. Then it's good to go. You usually don't have to return the car to the same location either.

These work broadly in the same way in which you'd rent a car, but there's no need to go to a central station because they're all parked in dedicated car club parking spaces. 

The other type is generally cheaper, and involves much of the same process with clever apps. But instead of a new Volkswagen Golf, they're private cars, owned by real people. These will range from newish Audis right down to ten-year old Peugeots. You'll more than likely need to return the car from where you picked it up too.

Car sharing hygiene

Once again, this varies from company to company. Mostly because firms that own their own cars clean their own cars.

For instance, Zipcar is using 'enhanced cleaning protocols' during this time. This includes additional cleaning to places you touch, like door handles, keys, and steering wheels.

A spokesperson for the company said: 'The safety of our members is our absolute priority. We already had stringent checks in place to ensure that all of our vehicles are cleaned regularly and thoroughly with an industry grade cleaning solution, paying particular attention to steering wheels, door handles, and key fobs.

'The teams also carry out spot checks on every vehicle at regular intervals throughout the week.

'Members can help our car sharing community by bringing disinfectant wipes to wipe down the car for yourself and others, keeping hands clean, using anti-bacterial hand gel before and after each trip or washing your hands thoroughly before and after using one of our vehicles.'

Whereas, with peer to peer lending, cleaning the car is down to the owner of the car, and the user.

Leading peer to peer lender Hiyacar is advising drivers, and owners to 'make sure to wipe down the common touch points.'

Hiyacar will also 'quarantine' a car if someone tests positive or develop symptoms when using or within three days of using a car

How much does car sharing cost? And what cars are available?

Car club parking

Generally, car sharing schemes cost between £5 and £10 per hour. However, it isn't quite as simple as that.

In an effort to keep cash flowing (or to offer value to customers, depending on who you listen to) many companies offer a subscription service.

For instance, Zipcar lets you sign up for £0 per month. This gives you a basic rate of £8/hour (£74/day) including 60 miles worth of fuel, insurance, breakdown assistance, and congestion charge.

For £6 a month, you get £6 worth of credit, plus, the hourly rate drops to £6 per hour. While there's a £15 a month option that gives you £15 worth of credit, plus a rate of £5/hour.

If you infrequently use the service, the £0 monthly fee is your safest bet. While if you use it every single week, there's money to be saved by going monthly.

Car sharing app on an iPhone

These figures can vary wildly depending on what car you go for. The figures used here are based around a Volkswagen Polo. Expect to find Ford Fiestas, Vauxhall Corsas, and Hyundai i20s for the same kind of price.

Electric vehicles, like the Volkswagen e-Golf, Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Renault Zoe are widely available too, usually for an increased price.

Bigger cars, like a Ford Focus, work out at a couple of quid more an hour. You won't struggle to find a Volkswagen Golf, which are extremely popular with car sharing firms.

While premium models from the likes of Audi et al are closer to £10 per hour. Vans are also available - from around £10/hour too.

While peer to peer apps, like Drivy, work out a bit cheaper, because the cars belong to real people.

For instance, you can get a three-year old Fiat 500 for a bit less than £5 per day. Don't expect the savings to be massive compared with big companies like Zipcar.

Where peer to peer lending does offer an upper hand is with the choice on offer. Within London postcodes, we found around 100 different cars on offer.

Car sharing/car clubs apps

Most types of schemes rely on an app. The simple reason is that the app works as your way of getting into, and starting, the car.

From the app, you can also find cars close to you, look at petrol prices around you. With peer to peer based companies, like with hiyacar, the app also works as a communications based system between renter and rentee, as not all cars on peer to peer systems will have a function where you can start the car from your phone.

Popular car sharing apps include Zipcar, Turo, Drivy, HiyaCar, and DriveNow.

Further reading

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