Engines are running as a new car sharing club launches in Sunderland tomorrow.
Four low cost, low emission cars will be available to hire from dedicated parking bays in the city centre which members of the scheme can hire on a short-term, low cost ‘pay-as-you-drive’ basis.
The scheme in Sunderland gets into gear tomorrow morning at 9.30am when Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for City Services, Councillor Michael Mordey, picks up a fully charged electric Nissan LEAF parked at Cowan Terrace.
The car club allows members to book cars online and unlock them with a smartcard.
At the end of the booking time the car is then returned to its bay for the next driver.
The cars can be hired for periods of 30 minutes up to several days at a time, and are charged on a per-hour basis, so that savings to be made on the cost of driving compared to car ownership.
Portfolio Holder for City Services, Councillor Michael Mordey said: “This city is committed to promoting sustainable transport, and this exciting regional project with our neighbouring local authorities is another way of getting people to consider alternatives ways to travel.
“A car club offers low cost eco-friendly car hire for residents and businesses, with economy and low-emission vehicles available for people to hire on a short term basis from convenient city centre locations near transport links.
"The schemes already in place nationally have reduced business costs by 20%, and also provided thousands of people with access to affordable motoring."
The car club is a regional sustainable transport project, part-funded through the North East Combined Authority (NECA) and delivered by local councils at community level, with the University of Sunderland partnering as a car club member for corporate use of the scheme on Wearside.
Facilities Support Manager at the University of Sunderland, Michael Foster said: “We are pleased to be partners in this innovative transport scheme that not only benefits our own staff and students, but the wider local community too.
“The University is committed to developing sustainable business practices that support our long-term carbon reduction targets and minimise our environmental impact. One of the ways we do this is to encourage our staff to switch to more sustainable forms of transport via our campus minibus and our Liftshare, Cycling and Parking Schemes. The Co-wheels scheme is a welcome addition that will further support the University’s target to reduce its carbon footprint.”
The scheme is delivered by the UK’s only independent car club operator Co-wheels, a social enterprise which successfully operates car clubs throughout the North East and 60 town and cities across the country.
Richard Falconer, Managing Director at Co-wheels added: “Sunderland is an ideal city for this type of innovative and integrated transport service. With a network of car clubs across the UK, we’re especially pleased to extend our car club provision to another location in such close proximity to our head office in Durham.”
All Co-wheels cars are low emission, hybrid, or fully electric vehicles which help to lower emissions and improve local air quality. The car club also adds social value by encouraging more active and sustainable travel choices, and providing access to cars for those who might be unable to afford a car of their own.
In Sunderland the vehicles include a electric Nissan LEAF manufactured in the city at the Washington plant.
The scheme also allows businesses and organisations to use the car club as an efficient ‘pool fleet’ service for staff, simplifying mileage claims and reducing carbon footprint.
Parking pressures can also be eased as people are able to walk, cycle or use public transport to get to work, knowing a car is available nearby to hire when needed. All employees of businesses and organisations who use Co-wheels for business travel are also eligible for free personal membership of Co-wheels as further financial incentive to become a member of the scheme.
The four Co-wheels car club bays in Sunderland include a Toyota Yaris hybrid car at Boughton Street public car park, and Toyota Aygo at Millfield Metro car park which are both available for public hire seven day of the week.
Sunderland City Council and the University of Sunderland have exclusive access to the other two cars during working hours which include a Nissan LEAF electric car at Cowan Terrace / Park Lane Interchange, and a small Toyota Aygo at City Space University Campus which are both available for public hire during evenings and weekends.
Hire of the cars cost from £4.50 per hour, plus a small mileage fee, with discounted day and evening rates.
For details and to claim £20 free driving credit at:www.co-wheels.org.uk/northeast.