There is a new trend in the world of car hire: car sharing schemes. Once such popular scheme in the UK is run by Zipcar and it allows you to use one of the company cars on a short term lease at an hourly rate. But, could Zipcar save me money on my car?
How Does Zipcar Work?
As a Zipcar member, you pay an annual membership fee of £59.50 a year. Then, you have access to a fleet of cars across your city which you can simply access using your membership card or your smartphone app.
Then, for the time which you use the car, you pay an hourly fee, dependent on the type of car, but with rates as low as £6 per hour.
I’ll let Zipcar explain the rest themselves:
Zipcar – An Example
Let’s imagine that we are in London and we need to visit a friend 30 miles away to deliver a fairly bulky package.
To make it fair, I’ll select two London postcodes at random.
- Starting location – Barlby Road, London, W10 6AP
- Destination – Blueberry Lane, Knockholt, Sevenoaks, TN14 5EL
According to Google Maps, this drive is 28.7 miles. Assuming that we don’t have our own car, let’s look at our traditional options and prices:
- Public Transport – According to the Transport For London website, we could walk 24 minutes to White City, take the central line to Oxford Circus, change to the Victoria Line to Victoria Underground, then take the train to Swanley Railway Station, and take two buses followed by another 5 minute walk. Total one way journey time of just under 3 hours, with a sizeable walk with our large items. Total cost of around £25 in total.
- Taxi – A taxi will only take about an hour, but will cost you upwards of £100 each way
- Traditional car hire – This will be cheaper than a taxi and Europcar will organize meet and greet for only £25. However, excess cover is an additional £10 for the day, fuel will cost another £11 and the London congestion charge will cost another £11.50, making the overall cost around £60.
What About Zipcar?
Well, a quick search shows me at least 10 available cars on adjacent streets to our starting point available from £7 per hour. This rate includes insurance, fuel and up to 60 miles in a day (which we would fall under).
We estimate that by the time we do the 1hr 10m drive two ways and we have a coffee with our friend, we will need 4 hours hire, which will total £28. Then, say we use Zipcar once every two months, we need to apportion the £60 per year annual membership to this journey. This effectively adds on another £10, meaning we have a total cost for the journey of around £40.
Other Benefits Of Zipcar
Zipcar is perfect for these trips where you need a vehicle at short notice. However, it also offers some other significant benefits over its rivals.
Zipcar has recently commissioned a report which shows that:
- Each car club replaces at least 14 private cars
- Car club member reduce congestion at peak times
- Car club cars have a better environmental performance compared with the average car on the road, as typically car club vehicles have amongst the lowest CO2 and are much more fuel efficient
- Car clubs alone could displace nearly 300,000 privately owned cars by 2020
For other questions, zipcar also have a series of FAQs on their website which should answer any questions that you may have.
Zipcar vs Car Ownership
You may have noticed that I’ve excluded having your own car in the alternatives above. This is because owning your own car in big cities is not usually worth the cost.
If you want to work out whether Zipcar would be cheaper than car ownership for yourself, then Zipcar has provides a savings calculator so you can compare for yourself.