Denise Crampton-Thompson got so sick of seeing cars stuck in her hometown that she decided to do something about it.
The 74-year-old environmentalist has set up a local “car club” that allows locals to share a small fleet of vehicles and hire them for trips.
It’s been nearly a decade since she started the program, but demand has never been higher than it is today.
Departure: Danielle Thompson shares the use of a car with seven other people in her village. She estimates she saves around £100 a month after ditching her car and joining the club
As households face a cost of living crisis, with fuel prices and energy bills skyrocketing, is it possible that Denise has found a solution?
Members of his club in Ludlow, Shropshire, must pay a one-time membership fee of £25. They then pay an hourly rate of £5.75 and on top of that 20 pence for every mile they run. If a member wants to rent it for 24 hours, they get a special daily rate of £40.
And they don’t even have to pay for fuel. Instead, members receive a club card which they can use to pay at the pump.
This means a motorist who drives 3,000 miles – or 260 hours – a year would spend £2,095 over the period.
Denise says: “If petrol prices continue to rise, more and more people will see that this is the way to go. It took us a long time to get people to join us. But now it’s going very well.
Oil prices skyrocketed after Russia invaded Ukraine, pushing up wholesale fuel prices.
Petrol prices hit a record high this week, with a liter hitting 163.71p on Monday. This was up 7.6p from Sunday March 6, adding £4.18 to the cost of filling a 55-litre family car.
As a result, a family car now costs upwards of £90 to fill empty – although a drop in wholesale costs means prices could soon drop slightly.
The cost of buying a used car has also skyrocketed, due to a lack of supply. According to figures from the Auto Trader online marketplace, one in five used cars sell for more than their new counterparts.
Last month, the average price on its site was over £20,000. The figure had risen for 93 consecutive weeks.
How to lower your fuel bills
Fuel prices hit a record high this week, with a liter of petrol reaching 163.71p
- Fill up at supermarket pumps. They are often cheaper than at large gas stations
- Empty the trunk and close the windows to reduce drag. A heavy car will consume more fuel because the engine has to work harder.
- Turn off equipment if not needed. Air conditioning, defoggers, headlights and rear window heaters can drain the energy of modern cars.
- Don’t let your engine run to warm up before you start your trip. Driving immediately will warm up the engine quickly and consume less fuel. Stick to de-icing spray if your car is covered in ice.
- Simple tips like accelerating smoothly and skipping gears when shifting can reduce fuel consumption.
- Driving at lower speeds will help reduce costs. Department for Transport figures revealed that driving on the motorway at 80mph uses 25% more fuel than driving at 70mph.
Advice from the consumer organization Which one?
On top of that, households are facing unprecedented pressure on their budgets, with energy bills feared to hit £4,000 later this year.
Meanwhile, revenues are stagnating. This weekend, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) warned that energy prices are set to rise 14 times faster than wages this year.
It’s no wonder, then, that more and more people are tempted to offload the burden of car ownership – which includes hefty insurance premiums, regular MOT services and, of course, fuel. petrol or diesel.
Denise thinks any driver who drives less than 800 miles a year better be a member of a local auto club.
She calculated that, when you factor in the initial and running costs of a car, motorists can save over £3,000 a year by joining a local group.
The Ludlow Group is a franchise of the national Co-Wheels chain that oversees similar initiatives across the country.
In January and February, bookings were a third higher than in the first two months of 2020, when the pandemic had not yet started.
Co-Wheels attributes this rise in popularity to the rising cost of living, as well as a growing concern for the environment.
Costs: more and more people are tempted to offload the burden of car ownership – which includes hefty insurance premiums, regular MOT services and, of course, petrol or diesel
For Danielle Thompson, cost was her main motivation when she started a car club in her village of Fownhope in Herefordshire. The 39-year-old estimates she saves around £100 a month after ditching her car and joining the club.
Danielle says: “My partner and I had two cars. He was at work in his all day. I didn’t use mine enough. We had a car right there on the driveway and that was a real inconvenience.
Their car club is independent of Co-Wheels and was established with funding from the local council.
Members pay a membership fee of £20, then £7.50 per month, plus an hourly rental rate. Unlike the Ludlow Group, members of Danielle’s car club have to pay for their own fuel.
There are of course downsides to sharing a car. Time slots can be booked quickly, so they only work for people who can be flexible about when they take trips.
In the Fownhope group, there is only one vehicle among the eight members, meaning no one can guarantee it will be there for them when they need it. But for Danielle, just saving on insurance and MOTs has been worth it.
She says, “We have more and more residents inquiring about it.
“A lot of people can’t afford a car anymore – it’s an option that works for them.”
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