UK's first EV car club promises to tackle congestion, cost and carbon

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 23 Oct 2013 14:40
E-Car Club launches in east London

The UK’s low-carbon transport ambitions have moved up a gear today with the launch of the first entirely electric pay-per-use car club. E-Car Club, which launches in East London before nationwide roll out, will allow businesses to reduce the cost and footprint of their fleets, make electric vehicles available to local communities and tackle the growing problem of urban air pollution.

The first installation from E-Car Club will see the new Renault Zoe and the Renault Fluence coming to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in partnership with social landlord Poplar HARCA, which owns around 9,000 homes in the local area.

The organisation and its residents will benefit from access to a low-carbon, low-cost transport solution, whilst the pay-per-use club membership will make electric vehicles available to the community in an area of long-standing social and economic deprivation.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer will open the event and recently commented: “E-Car Club is a scheme that kills three birds with one stone - congestion, cost and carbon. This government is serious in its support for ultra-low emission vehicles.

“Government also funds measures to help with the delivery of infrastructure and we have recently announced a further £500m to provide long-term support for the sector.”

MP for Poplar and Limehouse Jim Fitzpatrick, Red Warf actor and electric vehicle enthusiast Robert Llewellyn, Ben Fletcher, Electric Vehicle Product Manager at Renault UK, and Babu Bhattacherjee, Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods at Poplar HARCA were amongst the guests joining local residents and members of the E-Car Club team for the launch.

“The area of Poplar, in East London, is emerging as a place where sustainability is embedded in an empowered community, helping to drive a regeneration which confidently delivers for all. This first phase of the E-Car Club in Poplar embodies that and we very much look forward to its rapid expansion", states Paul Augarde, Head of Creativity & Innovation at Poplar HARCA.

E-Car Club combines the increasing popularity of pay-per-use car clubs as an attractive, affordable alternative to traditional car ownership, with the improving performance and reduced price of electric vehicles. The total cost of ownership for an electric fleet is lower than for petrol alternatives at car club utilisation levels and offers a considerably more sustainable, lower emissions solution.

The company was founded in 2017, with investment from Sustainable Venture Partners and the Technology Strategy Board, to offer easy, affordable access to low carbon transport for both businesses and communities. The mixed-use model brings together the needs of corporate customers that have costly and carbon-intensive fleet requirements, with those in the local community who want easy and affordable access to low carbon vehicles.

The London launch builds on the success of two pilot projects: a community-led project in Milton Keynes launched in October 2015 and a partnership with Luton Borough Council earlier this year. The company will be opening similar schemes in Oxford, University of Hertfordshire and Maylands Business Park in the coming months and plans to roll these out across the country.

“The E-Car mission is a simple, if ambitious, one. We want to improve mobility on a local level whilst simultaneously reducing both the cost and environmental impact of each journey taken,” explains Christopher Morris, Co-Founder of E-Car Club. “We expect this to be the first of many such schemes and look forward to launching hubs across London and the South East in 2014.”

Air pollution levels in London are a serious problem, with levels of NO2 on some of the capital’s busiest roads, including the A13, which runs through Poplar, currently more than triple legal limits. Each E-Car will achieve a 50-75kg reduction in nitrous oxide emissions per year and a 1-2kg reduction in particulate matter emitted in urban areas, helping to improve air quality and reduce health impacts.

Government is committed to making the UK the electric car capital of Europe and the Committee on Climate Change has stated that the ‘car club’ business model could be instrumental in challenging preconceptions and driving the wider adoption of EVs. The Transport Research Laboratory estimates that replacing just 10% of UK business fleet with electric vehicles would reduce emissions by half a million tonnes of CO2 per annum.

“Programmes like E-Car Club are essential because they actually get people behind the wheel. Once you’ve driven an electric vehicle, very few people want to go back because it’s so responsive, quiet, relaxing and very well suited to city driving”, comments Ben Fletcher, Electric Vehicle Product Manager at Renault UK. “On top of that there are real gains to be made in terms of emissions, especially with particulates and smog. By having electric vehicles in the city you stop that kind of pollution at the tail pipe and so have a direct positive impact on air quality and public health.”

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