Is Car Sharing A Good Idea?

There are many options for getting mobile in the UK. Of course, you could buy or finance a brand-new car – but that can be expensive.

A cheaper alternative is to browse through the thousands of used cars on sale, which offer useful cost saving options. But what if you only need to use a car occasionally and don’t fancy the costs and the faff of keeping one constantly taxed, insured and maintained?

It’s here where car clubs and car sharing schemes come in. Current estimates suggest that cars are parked at home 80% of the time and parked elsewhere 16.5% of the time – meaning you’re only driving your car 3.5% of the time.

By car sharing or belonging to a car club, you negate the costs of keeping a parked vehicle all the time, and instead pay for the use of someone else’s – and you only pay for the miles you drive.

car sharing
Image credit: Pexels

There are commercial car sharing, member-based car sharing and community car sharing models out there. And unlike traditional car hire, car sharing is almost infinitely flexible. You can rent a car from as little as an hour or two up to several days depending on your circumstances. Cars can often be found within minutes of where you are, and don’t necessarily need to be returned to the exact same spot.

Commercial car sharing usually means joining a car club. These clubs own large fleets of modern cars, like traditional car hire companies – but offer more flexibility. You often book through an app or browser, and telematics technology allows you to lock and unlock the car with your mobile phone so you don’t even need to collect a key.

Some popular car sharing apps include:

  • Co-Wheels
  • Enterprise Car Club
  • Getaround
  • HiyaCar
  • Ubeeqo
  • ZipCar

But will you save money through car sharing? That depends entirely on how much you drive. A new car driver is likely to spend over £5,000 a year on their vehicle – based on an average monthly PCP finance payment, £100 a month in fuel and average vehicle tax and insurance rates.

Most car sharing schemes cost between £5 and £10 an hour, with reduced rates for members who pay monthly subscriptions. Fuel is often included in this, as is congestion charge if you live in London.

You’ll pay more if you need a bigger car, and driving long distances can soon rack up the costs.

Outside of the established brands, there are community car sharing schemes known as P2P (peer-to-peer) platforms. These cars belong to real people in your neighbourhood, who rent them out when they’re not using them. The locations are often very convenient, though they’re less likely to offer longer loans and you will likely need to return the car to the place you found it.

You could also look into borrowing a car from a friend. Temporary car insurance can be reasonably cheap if you’re a low-risk driver, and the hyperflexible insurance app Cuvva allows you to insure yourself by the hour.

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.