London Councils works closely with key partners to support the car club sector. Car sharing could become a more important mode of sustainable transport in London. London Councils is determined to continue supporting a responsible growth of the sector and ensure it contributes to the capital’s sustainable transport strategy.
What is car sharing?
Car sharing is a short-term car rental scheme where individuals and businesses can have access to a car without owning one. Car clubs tend to be organised on an area basis with cars located in clusters so that if one car is not available, a member will only have a short walk to access another car. There are three key standard car club models currently operating in London, namely back-to-base, point-to-point and flexible.
Back-to-base model involves a car club member booking a specific car, located in a dedicated parking bay, for a period of time and then returning the car to the same dedicated parking bay, before the end of the reserved time.
Point-to-point model involves a member starting a reservation in an available car at a designated parking bay and driving to another designated parking bay, where the reservation ends.
Flexible model involves a member identifying an available nearby car (within a specified geographical operation area), reserving/booking that car and driving it to their destination, wherever that may be. To end their reservation, they must park the car within a specified geographical operating area, allowing for both one-way and round-trip journeys.
What car clubs are currently operating in London?
There are currently six car clubs in London, namely Co-Wheels, Enterprise, Getaround, Hertz 24/7, Ubeeqo and Zipcar.
Car club operating areas can be found on CoMoUK’s car club map.
The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) has a mandatory code of conduct for car clubs that includes an audit regime and alternative dispute resolution service, and CoMoUK runs an accreditation scheme explicitly for car sharing operators. These two schemes provide assurances to local authorities and users on an agreed set of standards for car sharing operators.
What are the potential benefits of car sharing?
Car clubs can help unlock a model of urban mobility for London by offering an alternative to private car ownership. London is already an important car club market, which is evolving with operators entering and leaving the field and new models being introduced. Whilst car clubs tend to operate predominantly in central and inner London, considerable potential for growth has been identified in outer London where private vehicle ownership is significantly higher.
Car clubs can bring benefits such as reduced pressure for car parking, access to cleaner vehicles, improved air quality (i.e. the car club fleet in London is 100% ULEZ compliant) and promoting a greater use of sustainable transport options.
What is London Councils doing to support car clubs?
The Task & Finish Group on Car Clubs was brought together by London Councils in the first half of 2019 to provide an in-depth analysis of the current state of car clubs in London and to identify ways in which car sharing could contribute in responding to environmental, population growth and congestion challenges. The group was made up of officers from London Councils, the GLA, TfL, local authorities and representatives from the British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (BVRLA) and CoMoUK.
Back in 2019, the group produced the final report on car clubs policy (click here to access the report) and the proposed recommendations were approved by the London Councils’ Transport and Environment Executive Committee. The Group concluded that general understanding and acceptance of car sharing differs throughout the capital and noted that operational arrangements between local authorities and car clubs across London lack consistency. The group also suggested that there is a lack of data available to undertake an in-depth analysis of car sharing operations on both local and pan-London levels.
What are we doing to overcome these challenges?
- London Councils is determined to ensure car clubs contribute to the capital’s sustainable transport strategy and is supporting borough collaboration on car clubs policy by regularly updating information on the website and sharing knowledge and relevant policy developments with borough officers and elected councillors
- Given the importance of evidence-based policy development, London Councils has worked with Imperial College London and the RAC Foundation to review existing car club data sharing schemes and develop the Car Club-Local Authority Data Sharing Framework (CLADS). London Councils will continue to work with local authorities and car club operators to promote and implement the framework in London
- To better coordinate London’s car clubs policies, London Councils and TfL agreed to co-fund and have now recruited a new Principle Policy & Projects Officer to lead on car club coordination at London Councils
- London Councils is working together with CoMoUK to organise and co-chair regular meetings of the London Car Clubs Forum, which provides a space for local authorities and car club operators to coordinate approaches and find solutions to shared challenges
Ensuring Car Clubs are available in the right place at the right time
London boroughs are currently working with car club operators and Transport for London to integrate car clubs into London’s transport infrastructure to meet the needs of Londoners and to safeguard the city’s environmental future. However due to inconsistencies and gaps in data collected, use of car clubs and therefore their potential contribution to London’s wider transport goals is not clearly understood. That is why London Councils, RAC Foundation and Imperial College London have published a report on a data sharing framework between boroughs and car club operators.
This framework, the Car Club Local Authority Data Standard (CLADS), aims to provide important data sharing standards for all boroughs when it comes to understanding how car clubs work in London. This will allow boroughs to develop better policies with partners surrounding car clubs with the hope of improving services and increasing use across the capital.
Click here to see a video that explains the research and the fromework in greater detail.
Car club operators & other stakeholders
Research & Analysis
- Better data for smarter decision-making: The proposed Car Club-Local Authority Data Standard (2020)
- Cars in the City report (2019)
- Mayor's Transport Strategy (2018)
- Annual Car Club Survey for London report (2017/18)
- Shared Mobility Simulations for Helsinki report (2017)
- Carplus Annual Survey of Car Clubs in London report (2016/17)
- London Car Club Strategy report (2014)