A car club could be a small scale arrangement between a residential block, cooperatively owned and organised, using pens and paper to record usage and manage booking times. Or it could be a large business with thousands of members, a wide choice of cars available, using online booking, smart card technology to access the cars and onboard computers to record mileage. Research shows that an average of 25 private cars are taken off the road for every car club car. For private members, car club membership typically works out as cheaper than private car ownership if you drive less than 6,000 miles per year. Typically, members pay a monthly or annual subscription, pay for car rental by the hour or per day, and pay petrol costs on top of this. Because car clubs often take care of maintenance, insurance costs and other administrative affairs, car clubs can often be more convenient for users than car ownership. Car clubs can also offer a number of services to businesses, which can help them reduce their costs and their emissions.
Car owners pay a lot when they purchase the price and on fixed costs like insurance and maintenance, but only pay petrol when they need to make a journey. Although car club users typically spend less on car transport than car owners overall, when it comes to making a journey, they often have to pay for the rental costs as well as the petrol they use. Because car club users in effect ‘pay as they go’, there is a constant financial incentive to avoid car use or to use public transport wherever possible. This is often not the case for private car owners. Once they have bought the car and paid the fixed annual costs, they are often financially incentivised to actually avoid making a journey by buying a ticket to use public transport.
Another major advantage to large car club members is the range of vehicles which is often on offer. Instead of being limited to one car which you own personally, you can choose a vehicle according to your requirements on a case by case basis. If you need a large vehicle to move some furniture, a hybrid car to make a long distance journey, or a small car to run errands around the city, these are all options available to members. There are a number of car club organisations which now use hybrid, or low-emission vehicles. City Car Club in the UK, for example, has invested more than €1.12 million in hybrid vehicles. Many of the cars the company runs in London are sufficiently low-emitting as to be exempt of the city’s congestion charge.