Why would car club vehicles be exempt from the road charge?

Car club vehicles will be exempt from the road charge under the Sustainable Travel Zone proposals published by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP). More investment in car clubs is also proposed under the scheme.

The GCP envisages the creation of travel hubs in key locations (the railway stations, Cambridge Regional College and Addenbrooke’s/Cambridge Biomedical Campus). These sites would not only host bus/train stations, but also host car clubs, and other sustainable travel services such as secure bike parking and e-scooter hire.

What is a car club?

A car club (also called car sharing) is a version of car rental in which a car can be rented for a short period of time, often a few hours, or longer. The car can be provided by a company, co-operative or an individual (if the latter, the rental is often provided through a facilitating company). Car clubs differ from traditional car rental in that:

  • rental can be for a short period of time, or longer;
  • cars are available 24/7, not just in office hours;
  • car collection and return is self-service;
  • users are members;
  • vehicles are spread across various locations.

What are the benefits of car clubs?

Car clubs benefit individuals, as they as they allow access to a wide range of models of cars without the cost, expense and inconvenience of owning them.  They can be a good alternative to car ownership for people who do not need to use a car frequently, or for people who need different types of vehicles for different purposes (e.g. a van one day, a 7-seater another and a very small car when appropriate).

Using car clubs, rather than owning a private car, also has other advantages:

  • they benefit cities as they can reduce the number of vehicles parked on residential streets;
  • they benefit the environment as they allow individuals who usually travel on foot or by cycle, bus or train to use a vehicle only when they need one, rather than purchasing a vehicle themselves, thus avoiding embedded emissions;
  • they can reduce the number of journeys in a city taken by car. Evidence suggests that individuals travel more by motor vehicle more once they have purchased one, due to the sunk costs. Car clubs allow people to use a car without owning one.

Existing car clubs in Cambridge

There are already car clubs in Cambridge and it is hoped that more will be established as a result of the proposed Sustainable Travel Zone. Enterprise Car Club is currently the official car club provider on behalf of Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council. Access to 25 low-emission hybrid vehicles is available 24/7 to residents via a mobile app. The vehicles are parked on streets and in car parks and Enterprise Rent-A-Car branches across Cambridge.