Driving through the credit crunch
City Car Club in Norwich has found a new and inventive way of getting people moving again during the credit crunch - find a car pool, activate the car and then drive away!
A car club in Norwich is accelerating in popularity, by changing people's transport habits to make driving a car far more cost effective in these penny pinching times.
The Norwich branch of City Car Club is one of the company's smaller operations hosting only six cars, but it is on course to have 200 members by Christmas 2008. Following recent demand, the company is adding five additional cars in Norwich city centre by Saturday, 15 November, 2008.
The company has been highlighted after new car sales in the East of England dropped by 19% in 2008 and membership, particularly in Norwich, has increased.
"The growth in Norwich has been unbelievable. More and more people are using the car club due to the credit crunch and can see that it's a cost effective method of surviving the pinch," said James Finlayson, CEO of the City Car Club.
The City Car Club has convenient on-street parking spaces all over Norwich and members can rent the cars by the hour for less than £5, with 50 miles of free petrol every day. The cars can be found on Recorder Road (NR1 1ND), King Street (NR1 1PG), Fishers Lane (NR2 1ET), Colegate (NR3 1BN) and St Benedict's Street (NR2 4PG) in Norwich.
Cutting the cost of cars
The sales manager of City Car Club is Habib Khan, who tells BBC Norfolk how much people can actually save through the scheme.
Cars are parked around Norwich centre
"According to independent RAC figures, it's anything over £1500 pounds per year and that's not considering the capital purchase of the car. What most people don't realise is how much your car depreciates over 12 months and that's before your usual insurance, road tax, MOT and petrol," said Habib.
The current downturn in the economy has made lots of people look at their spending, but the car club was doing well even before this credit pinch.
"It was a growing trend anyway and I think the credit crunch has just accelerated it. I think it focuses people's minds upon what is absolutely necessary and what's a luxury," said Habib.
"If your car just sits there Monday to Friday while you get the bus and you just use it for that trip to the DIY store or supermarket over the weekend, then you need to think about whether you really need a car," he added.
People who currently use the scheme also tend to cut costs in other areas of transportation.
"We did a survey last year and found that 64% of people who joined City Car Club actually increase their use of public transport, walk or cycle," said Habib.
Using the scheme
So how does the system work and how can a car be booked?
"The most common way is online. You decide what day you want it, what time and for how long. You can do it over the phone, but there is a small charge," said Habib.
Cars are activated by keyless entry
"However, if you have booked online at least once you can do instant bookings. If you see one of the cars on the street with a green light flashing on the windscreen, you can access and book it instantly," he added.
Cars are parked in designated parking bays and once booked, members can gain access with their smart enabled, personal membership card. Their PIN is entered into the onboard computer and they can just drive away. Journeys made are then itemised on a monthly statement.
Bookings can be made directly from the cars at a moment's notice, on the internet at www.citycarclub.co.uk or over the telephone on 0845 258 2983.
last updated: 13/11/2008 at 16:49