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Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 16:18 UK

Have Your Say: Car clubs

Car tax disc
You may find road tax a hassle, but would you scrap your motor?

Parking permits, car tax, insurance, MOT, depreciation - the fixed costs of having your own car can be daunting.

So some motorists are giving up owning and taking up sharing, by joining car clubs.

You pay a membership and then a daily rate, and if you
are lucky enough to have a car club car nearby and no one else has booked it, you can use it straight away.

Would you consider giving up your car? Tell us why.

Do you think car clubs are a good idea?

Perhaps you have already joined one of these clubs. How have you found it?

We asked for your comments, a selection of which are below. The debate is now closed.


Car clubs are generally expensive, especially when you can hire a car for a whole 24 hours from as little as 20 per day. The other benefit of hiring ad hoc is that the car is checked before every hire and when returned so you do not get any nasty surprises! The company we use also deliver and collect the car for around 5 - 10, or pick us up and take us to their branch for free, much more convenient and better controlled.
Paul Brown, Leeds

My three short bookings could turn out to be an expensive exercise
Sally Blaxland, London
As a relatively new car club member, I was interested to hear one of your interviewees on Saturday 6 September saying how good it was, as a car club member, not to have to worry about leaving your car on the street overnight, "waiting to be vandalised". Unfortunately, it is not that simple. It appears that, after I dropped off the club's vehicle, the car was somehow damaged. I received an e-mail advising me that the member who next used the vehicle had reported damage to the paintwork of the rear passenger door that had not been recorded in the damage log. As the previous user, it appears that, following a technician's assessment, I may be held liable to the tune of several hundred pounds. No incidents occurred while I was driving the car. I went round the car when I parked it and I noticed no damage. Some vandalism must have occurred in the hours - or even days - before the next member picked up the vehicle, or even after the start of that member's booking period, if he or she did not collect the vehicle promptly. However, telephone enquiries reveal that it is company policy always to hold the last preceding member to use the vehicle liable for damage reported. This appears to mean that the company is not liable for any damage at all to one of its cars after the start of the first user's booking. Members are signing up to bear liability for an unspecified time - it could be days - after the end of each of their bookings, without even having any choice about the parking location. So it seems that I may have to pay for a re-spray, and not even have the benefit of a shiny new car of my own! To be fair, the e-mail from the company states that the matter is under investigation, but a fruitless conversation with an albeit sympathetic customer services agent indicated that there was likely to be little room for negotiation. So would I recommend joining a car club? Well, as a result of this claim, on top of the flat-rate annual membership fee, my three short bookings could turn out to be an expensive exercise. As a result, I would far rather take a cab in future, or better still have the responsibility, as well as the convenience, of having my own car.
Sally Blaxland, London

So far communities wishing to set up a car club in towns and villages have encountered many problems including insurance as the previous contributor says. Carplus, the national charity for car clubs, has been give a pilot grant from the DFT to create a network of not for profit community cars. This can include privately owned cars kitted with the smart card technology and operated under the umbrella community interest company - Commonwheels. And if the pilot is a success we hope soon that everyone will have the option to not own a car, including MPS in their constituency as well as Westminster!
Antonia Roberts, Carplus, Leeds

There's no need for a car in London

Paul Fennell, London

We gave up our car a couple of months ago. We almost never drove anyway - there are still local shops around here. We don't miss it at all, the local car club was great for the one time we wanted a car. There's no need for a car in London.
Paul Fennell, London

Our local council contacted residents to gauge interest in a local scheme last year. There has been no further word since then - I think it was just done to placate critics of new car parking arrangements in the town. I've contacted the council but have not received a reply yet.
Dave Griffths, Wakefield

Ended up getting the train. Not for me

Dave Harris, London

I joined a car club because my car broke down. It was off the road for a number of weeks. I had all sorts of problems gaining access to their various cars. The customer service and support was a joke. When I really, really needed a car, to attend a court on a speeding fine funnily enough, I tried in vain to gain access for over 40 minutes - ended up getting the train. Not for me.
Dave Harris, London

Excellent idea. If I ever live in a city, I'll join one. Schemes like this should be vat-free and perhaps enable a tax benefit. To be encouraged.
Chris, Bangor, Gwynedd

In 25 years of being a motor mechanic I have seen many company pool cars badly treated. Many drivers accidentally damage the car - usually by hitting the kerb, causing damage to the tyres and suspension and then they keep quiet about it. The next driver assumes they are driving a roadworthy car. In my opinion the car has to be inspected on return after each use. This would increase the cost of car sharing.
Jonathan Willis, Southampton

It will be sad if the government and insurers do not rise to this challenge

David Oldham, Aberystwyth

As you point out, car clubs are not cost effective in small towns but should such communities be deprived of that opportunity? I think it will benefit small towns to encourage ad hoc car clubbing. The major difficulty of ad hoc car sharing arrangements to my mind is the problem of car insurance. Although many initially offered the use of their car when we went car-less three years ago, interest reduced when the insurance aspects crop up. One day trip cost us 30 just on insurance, hence are looking into the issue. We both have never had a problem with past insurance but, cannot arrange insurance for one or a series of cars we do not own. We have to have our names put onto each owner's car insurance. Hence, our own safe driving is not rewarded with reduced costs and others face increases on their insurance if we have an accident. We are all encouraged to save energy. Last year my MP wrote to the Department of Transport and I wrote to The Association of British Insurers but there was no will to address this issue. I think the insurance industry should be castigated for their disinterest in one way they could do their energy bit. I think as a result of the insurance apathy and the significant insurance hurdle, fewer cars are made available for car sharing. Typically I drive less than 30 hours a year so. Statistically my chances of an accident are low. When a car is not on your drive, one uses public transport and cycles much more. Any journeys, including with a car, are as a result better planned. We need this high oil price pressure to make us consider changing our ways. It will be sad if the government and insurers do not rise to this challenge.
David Oldham, Aberystwyth

My insurance renewal quote was the push I needed. I sold the car and signed up to a car club. The process was quick and easy. I do now have to book a car rather than just jumping in - so it has also helped me plan and budget better. For longer journeys or if I need a car for days not hours, I still hire the traditional way - but can now afford to upgrade. On the insurance issue I have found a site that insures against the 500 daily excess for a few quid a day. I had an excess on my own car insurance - so this is an improvement.
David Mead, London

Car clubs are not for me. The politicians lecture us on our carbon footprint, and many of them drive large cars, especially ministerial cars, and award themselves the best pensions in the country. Typical hypocrisy.
Mr J Conquer, Hamilton South Lanarkshire

It's not for everyone, but for people living in cities who only really need a car on rare occasions it's perfect
Tom Parnell, Edinburgh
I've been a member of the City Car Club in Edinburgh for about five years, and I love it. Edinburgh was the first city in the UK to get a car club, and is now, I think the biggest in the UK outside London. There are dozens and dozens of cars throughout the city - I've got about six within five minutes walk, and never not had a car available when I want it. The best thing is not the money that I save but the fact someone else looks after the car, looks after insurance, tax, MOT, repairs, etc. I just drive. Parking where I live, and indeed in most parts of the city is extremely difficult, but I always know there is a space exactly where I expect it. Brilliant. As for costs, I probably spend about 30 - 50 a month - less than I would in a year on insurance alone as a city-dwelling, twenty-something "reckless driver"(as the insurance companies have apparently decided). I certainly couldn't afford to replace my car every two or three years either, which is one other nice thing about the car club cars - they're all rather nice, especially the rather flash Honda hybrids they have. Edinburgh has a fantastic public transport system, and is easy to walk most places so it's easy to live without a car most of the time, though I suppose many car drivers are unnecessarily attached to their lump of metal, and so would find it hard to give it up. It's not for everyone, but for people living in cities who only really need a car on rare occasions it's perfect. What's really interesting now is the number of companies signing up - again they recognise it's much more efficient.
Tom Parnell, Edinburgh

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.

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