Car sharing clubs have long been hailed as an environmentally-friendly – and much cheaper – alternative to car ownership.
They reduce the number of cars on the road, cut out unnecessary trips, and avoid the costs of buying and running a car such as tax, insurance, MOTs and servicing.
Now, car sharing clubs are embracing the shift to electric vehicles, making them an even more attractive option for drivers looking to save the planet AND money. With electric cars costing 38 per cent on average more to buy than petrol or diesel models, using a car share club is a great way to make the switch without the outlay.
You can find and book an electric car near you online or via an app, unlock it digitally and simply park up and plug it in again once you’re done.
Here are our top 4 car sharing clubs offering pay-as-go electric vehicles:
1. Co Wheels
Co Wheels offers electric cars across the UK that you can book for 30 minutes to several days, paying only for the hire time and distance you drive.
To get started, you’ll need to register online and wait for your smart card (which unlocks your hire car) to arrive in the post. You can then use the app to find and book an electric car near you. When you’re done, you park the car in a dedicated Co Wheels space and plug it in to charge.
Co Wheels accepts members aged 19 plus, who have held a full British driving licence for a minimum of 24 months. If you are aged 25 or under, you must have a clean licence with zero points or endorsements.
What’s the cost?
Co Wheels charges a £25 joining fee plus a £25 monthly membership fee. You then pay for the time you drive and mileage – all else, including insurance, tax and cleaning, is included. You can pay by the hour, with rates starting at £5 per hour, or from £40 per day. Mileage is charged at £0.05p per mile.
Additional drivers cost £15 for personal accounts and £12 for business accounts.
Zipcar has more than 400,000 fully electric cars available across London. You can book, navigate to, and unlock your car with the Zipcar app. The cars are fully charged overnight so they are ready to go in the morning. The app will display your car’s approximate range (how far it will travel on one charge) but bear in mind that speed, cold weather, air-conditioning and heating will all have an impact on this.
Zipcar says its electric fleet is designed for driving within London – it doesn’t recommend going further afield as charging cables are not left in the cars. Zipcar estimates that its service has removed 12,000 private cars from the roads, helping to reduce emissions and improve traffic congestion in the capital.
What’s the cost?
To hire an electric car with Zipcar, you’ll need to take out a Plus-London membership, costing £15 per month. This can be used as credit towards hiring an electric car.
An e-Golf or e-Corsa costs £14 an hour on weekdays or £14.50 an hour on weekends (including up to 60 miles per day).
3. Co Cars
Co Cars is a hire-by-the-hour car club in the South West, with cars at locations from Falmouth to Salisbury. It offers low emission petrol, electric and hybrid cars. Its electric fleet, all powered by renewable energy from Good Energy, ranges from the compact Fiat 500e up to the family-sized VW ID.3.
Once you’re a member, you can book a car near you on the app and unlock it with your personal smart card (you must wait to receive this until you can book a car).
What’s the cost?
Individual membership is £30 per year, and household membership is £40 per year. You then pay for the hours you’re driving plus mileage – everything else, including insurance, breakdown cover and tax, is included. Co Cars’ standard rates start from £5.75 per hour for a small electric car, plus 4p per mile. You must be aged between 21 and 75 to join.
You can book an electric car through the Enterprise Car Club website or app by using the search filter ‘electric only.’ The cars come with a charge card, which unlocks the charging cable from the post. When you’re done, you simply park up and plug it back in.
Most of the Enterprise Car Club electric cars can run up to 100 miles on one charge, but remember this will vary depending on your speed, air-con or heating, driving style and radio usage. The company recently added the latest Nissan Leaf to its fleet, which can drive up to 190 miles on one charge.
What’s the cost?
Enterprise Car Club charges a membership fee and mileage rate with a choice of three plans based on how frequently you’ll be driving. For example, you can choose to pay a lower monthly fee of £7 with a higher mileage rate of £6.10 per hour or a higher monthly fee of £20 with a lower mileage rate of £4.60 per hour.
There is also an Under-22 plan for drivers aged 19-21, charged at £6 per month and £7.10 an hour.
Rates vary depending on your location (London drivers will pay a premium) and the type of car you choose to hire.