How new housing developments can benefit from car clubs

Guest blog by Rebecca Townend, Co-wheels Car Club.

A car club based within a community can have a whole host of benefits for those who live there. An ideal way of introducing car club cars into a community is to mandate their inclusion in all new residential and mixed-use developments.

A car club is access to a personal vehicle without being tied to ownership, offering flexible use to book and drive. Cars are there to be used when you need them, for a long as you need them, but provide no burden the rest of the time. The upkeep of the vehicles, the insurance, fuel and logistics of a car club will all be taken care of by the provider.

Co-wheels is a car club operator based in Newcastle. It currently operates with over 600 cars UK-wide, including in new housing developments from Bournemouth to Aberdeen.

  • Stoke Quay, Ipswich. This housing development on the waterfront in Ipswich has a shared Toyota Aygo which has become essential in a lot of residents’ day-to-day lives.
  • Barns road, Oxford. The demand in this development in the South East of Oxford is enough to hold two cars – a Toyota Aygo and an Auris Hybid.
  • Aberdeen. Co-wheels have car clubs at four different small local communities in Aberdeen. These support the 25+ vehicles already located in Aberdeen City Centre.

This blog post is going to look at some of the main benefits that car clubs bring and why they can be a great addition to new residential developments:

Enabling residents to access opportunities that would have been otherwise unavailable

Typically, around 1/3 of car club members join in order to gain additional personal freedom. Car clubs provide affordable access to a car without the often-large purchase cost which for some is unaffordable. The main uses for residential car clubs are leisure, shopping and visiting friends and family.

Increasing disposable income

Car club members without a car spend no money on buying or maintaining private vehicles. Additionally, those who use car clubs as a second car or back-up option still save money. The cost of signing up and paying for a car only when you need it is notably less that having a car sitting outside your home that is not regularly used. These members therefore have more disposable income, which is often spent within local communities.

Increasing the use of electric vehicles

Buying an electric vehicle can be very costly. This, alongside the necessary charging infrastructure and electricity use can make EVs difficult to incorporate into everyday life. By using a car club and letting the provider do the hard work for them, members can enjoy electric vehicles without the hassle of private ownership. The increased use of EVs will have a positive impact on the air quality within the local community.

Combating air pollution

There are strong links between the social, economic and environmental demographics of an area and the increased rate of pollution. Rather than residents buying old, environmentally harmful cars for a low price, they could have an option to become a car club member. This saves money and stops unnecessary pollution.

Benefits to the developer

The inclusion of car club cars within a new residential site also brings significant benefits to the developer and is a valuable sales tool. Space that may have been used for personal parking or garages is freed up, providing additional outside green space for the residents. The cost of installing electric car recharging posts is significantly lower than that of providing land for parking and a car club is an attractive additional feature for prospective residents, especially when the developer also offers free membership for its residents.

The relevant local authority will often work with the developer for car club provision through Section 106 Agreements. These agreements would usually ensure that the developer provides suitable space and recharging infrastructure, and some level of pump priming to support the costs of the vehicles as they are established. Developers often recognise the benefit of subsidising membership and driving time, or an associated marketing plan.

Guest blog by Rebecca Townend, Co-wheels Car Club.