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New Report: Getting to 25,000 Car Club members by 2015

The Transform Scotland Trust [1] is today (Monday 13th) setting out how car clubs [2] can become widespread across Scotland. The report finds that, should action be taken now, car club membership in Scotland could expand from 3,500 today to 25,000 by 2014/15.

02 What We Do

Pictured at the launch are Keith Stark (City Car Club), Morag Haddow (Sustaining Dunbar) and Chas Ball, author of the Transform Scotland Trust report, with one of City Car Club’s new hybrid cars.

The Trust’s new research, ‘Developing Car Clubs in Scotland’, is being launched on the same day that City Car Club, operators of Edinburgh’s flourishing car club, are unveiling the addition of new Toyota Prius hybrid cars to their Edinburgh car club fleet.

Professor Stephen Stradling, [3] Chair of the Transform Scotland Trust, said:

“Our research points the way forward for car clubs to become a reality for people across Scotland. We have identified what is required for both commercial car clubs to flourish in our larger towns and cities, and for the creation of co-operative or voluntary schemes in smaller communities. We have also set out the modest budget and the local, regional and national support needed for the further development of car clubs in Scotland.

“We know that the Scottish transport minister Stewart Stevenson is personally keen to see the expansion of car clubs, and we hope that our research presents a clear way forward for the Minister and his colleagues in local government to make car clubs commonplace in Scotland.” [4]

Stewart Stevenson, Scottish Government Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change welcomed the introduction of the hybrid vehicle to the Edinburgh City Car Club and the publication of the Transform Scotland Trust car clubs report:

“Scotland has the most ambitious climate change legislation anywhere in the world and our climate change delivery plan means persuading drivers to use more sustainable forms of transport. We commend the investigations of Transform Scotland Trust to produce a report that indicates clearly the scope for enlargement of the car club sector in Scotland and I also welcome the commitment by Edinburgh City Car Club to introduce hybrid vehicles to the fleet with carbon emissions reduction and improve air quality.”

Chas Ball, [5] author of the Transform Scotland Trust report, said:

“Car clubs are one of the most cost effective transport measures available to policy makers to reduce carbon emissions. [6] But they also bring economic benefit, as members of car clubs can save between £1,000 and £3,500 per year over the cost of car ownership. [7]

“Car clubs encourage a switch to public transport, walking and cycling and result in a reduction in car use and at least fifteen cars taken off the road for each car added to the fleet. They also encourage the use of lower carbon, cleaner vehicles than the cars people give up to join car clubs.

“Worldwide expansion of shared and pooled cars is set to grow rapidly [8] and become increasingly important to car manufacturers as electric cars and plug in hybrids enter the market and are increasingly used by people through car-sharing clubs rather than direct ownership.”

Keith Stark, manager of City Car Club in Scotland, [9] said:

“Edinburgh City Car Club has continued to grow impressively and we now have in excess of 3,500 members and will shortly be launching our 100th car to accommodate the increasing demand.

“In order to allow our members to drive the most environmentally responsible cars, we are embarking on a fleet renewal programme which will see the introduction of several ultra-low emitting Toyota Prius T3 hybrid cars with sub 100g/km.”

On Monday, we will have representatives from existing car club operators (Keith Stark from City Car Club), local government (City of Edinburgh Council’s transport committee convener Cllr. Gordon Mackenzie) and a small community group looking to implement a car club (Morag Haddow from Sustaining Dunbar).

The research project was supported by Hitrans, SEStran, SPT and Tactran (four of Scotland’s seven regional transport partnerships), Co-operative Development Scotland, ScotRail and the Scottish Government. [10]



[1] Transform Scotland Trust

The Transform Scotland Trust was established to carry out research and educate the public about transport’s impact on the economy, environment, and society as a whole. The Trust was chaired by Stephen Stradling, Professor Emeritus at Edinburgh Napier University’s Transport Research Institute. The trust has been dissolved in 2012.

[2] What are car clubs?

The principle of car clubs is simple – members have access to a fleet of vehicles based in convenient locations near their home, workplace or transport hubs for use on an ‘as required’ basis. Typically members book cars on-line and pay by the hour plus mileage. Individuals and employers gain the benefit of access to a car, without the cost and responsibility of private vehicle ownership. They often also gain access to dedicated on-street parking in areas where parking is limited and costly.

Higher fuel costs, increased environmental awareness, and a slowing economy have supported the rapid growth of car clubs in Britain – particularly in London over the last two or three years – as the concept has become better understood, and the technology has improved.

Helping the car club market to grow will relieve inner city parking pressures, reduce congestion and, by using low emission vehicles, improve air quality. Car clubs encourage people in high density areas to get rid of their own cars. This type of car-sharing complements public transport – it provides an option for people to get to the places where buses and trains don’t reach or to get about at times when buses and trains are not running.

[3] Prof. Stephen Stradling

See <> for biography of Prof. Stephen Stradling.

[4] Transform Scotland Trust car clubs conference

Transform Scotland Trust held a conference in Edinburgh in March 2009 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the launch of the Edinburgh car club. Scottish Government transport minister Stewart Stevenson MSP spoke at the conference and spoke of his enthusiasm for the future expansion of car clubs in Scotland. See <> for details.

[5] Chas Ball

The review was carried out by Chas Ball, a transport consultant specialising in car clubs. He was founder of City Car Club and he was responsible for the take over in 2001 of Edinburgh City Car Club operations from Budget Rentacar. He left to work in consultancy in late 2007. Chas has recently been appointed Policy Director of Carplus – <>.

[6] Climate change emission savings from car clubs

A “national network of car clubs” was identified in research published by the Scottish Government in August 2009 as being one of the most cost-effective measures for reducing climate change emissions from the transport sector. The research, by Atkins and The University of Aberdeen, ‘Mitigating Transport’s Climate Change Impact in Scotland: Assessment of Policy Options’, is available at <>.

[7] Financial benefits of car club membership

Research for Transport for London, supported by evidence from a community-based car club in the north of Scotland, shows that members of car clubs can on average save between £1,000 and £3,500 per year. Transport for LondonÕs research, Attitudes towards Car Clubs (Synovate, April 2007).

[8] Projected growth in car sharing

Frost & Sullivan, a market-research firm, estimates that by 2016 the market will be worth $6 billion a year, half of that in America, with a total of some 10m users. Outside America, most of the growth is in Britain and other north European countries such as Germany. (The Economist, 02 Sept 10 – <>)

[9] Edinburgh City Car Club

Edinburgh’s City Car Club has nearly 3,000 members and 90 cars. It has on street locations throughout the city serving residents, small businesses and providing pool cars for council staff. See <> for full details.

[10] Car Clubs Review project

The project was funded by three regional transport partnerships (SEStran. SPT and TACTRAN) and by Co-operative Development Scotland. It also received in-kind support from Hitrans, First ScotRail and the Scottish Government.

The review held stakeholder workshops in Glasgow, Perth, Linlithgow and Inverness, before a concluding session hosted by the Scottish Government at its HQ in Leith.