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‘Nextbike for cars’: Huge car sharing scheme set to launch in Cardiff

30 Sep 2021 3 minute read
Castle Street in June 2021, Cardiff Picture: Alex Seabrook

Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter

A huge car sharing scheme in Cardiff is set to launch next year which could see cars and vans parked around the city available to rent.

A car club would work in a similar way to the Nextbike scheme, with drivers able to rent a car or van for a short amount of time via an app or a website.

Cardiff council is planning to get a private operator to run the car club, which is scheduled to launch in spring or summer next year.

The car club forms part of the council’s wider plans to cut air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, and reduce the need for private car ownership.

Details of the scheme were revealed in a recent cabinet report, which said: “Car clubs are a well established model which provide club members with short-term access to a car, without the need for owning a private vehicle.

“Wider societal changes indicate a future move away from private car ownership may be emerging. Trends suggest younger people are now driving less, while shared models of mobility are continuing to develop. Facilitating access to car club vehicles has a pivotal role in this shift away from the private car.

“The growth in shared mobility options — such as the Nextbike scheme — and developments in enabling technology have provided additional impetus in the sector. A number of car club providers have expressed interest in establishing operations in Cardiff.”

‘Cut pressures’ 

The report added a car club could reduce the number of privately owned cars in the city, and cut pressure on parking spaces. Other benefits include saving costs for drivers by only paying to use a car as needed, and cleaner and newer vehicles being used which emit less air pollutants and carbon dioxide.

A small car club already exists in Cardiff, which launched in 2010. It was originally sponsored by the council, but was later bought by car rental company Enterprise in 2015. The council is about to go out for tender for a new operator to significantly expand the car club, with more members and vehicles. Cabinet is due to sign off the plans on October 14.

The plans are at an early stage and it’s unclear how many cars would be included in the club, or whether they would be electric vehicles. The cabinet report said introducing electric vehicles to the scheme would be explored in future.

According to the 2011 Census, about three in ten households in Cardiff don’t have access to a car or a van. But for places close to the city centre, the figures are even higher, with 53 per cent of households in Adamsdown, 34 per cent in Grangetown and 44 per cent in Cathays without access to a car or van.

London, Bristol, Leeds and Birmingham also have car clubs as well as several other UK cities and around the world. In the UK there are almost 700,000 car club members with a total of more than 4,000 vehicles.

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Ena Lloyd
Ena Lloyd
2 years ago

I really support this idea. Would be even better if the cars were electric cars too.

Jenny Howell
Jenny Howell
2 years ago

Fantastic news. I have been a member of the car club for a few years, but when it was taken over by Enterprise they concentrated all the cars in the city centre which made it a lot less useful for me so I gave up my membership. I hope they will be more equally distributed around the city. And vans too please!

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