Car-sharing becoming a popular cost-saver

Moray Carshare, a pioneering community-based car club offering affordable and sustainable transport solutions including the availability of zero-emissions electric vehicles, is enjoying an overwhelming thumbs-up from members.

An electric vehicle glides silently through the Field of Dreams at The Park

An electric vehicle glides silently through the Field of Dreams at The Park

Member Patricia O’Shea of St Leonard’s Road in Forres said in a survey: “I can afford to use a car because I only pay for what I use. I like the fact that when I use the electric vehicles I am saving the planet from a bit of greenhouse gas emissions, so I can better look my grandchildren in the eye.”

The carpool, which was birthed at The Park, Findhorn, serves residents of the IV36 postal code area of Morayshire and has cars available at five locations in and around Findhorn and Forres.

Manager Gordon McAlpine says that Moray Carshare evolved from Park Carpool that was founded in 2007 with 15 members from the Findhorn Foundation and Community and three old bangers, but today boasts more than 90 members and a fleet of 13 cars including three electric vehicles and a petrol-electric hybrid.

Today it ranks as one of the largest not-for-profit car clubs in Scotland and its steady growth has been noticed and rewarded by Developing Car Clubs Scotland, a Scottish Government scheme which recently funded a third electric car for the club.

Moray Carshare manager Gordon McAlpine

Moray Carshare manager Gordon McAlpine

Funding for a charging point within The Park has come from the Energy Savings Trust Scotland.

Gordon McAlpine reports that there is a good sense of community among the members because the club is 100% owned and controlled by them.

“We provide access to cars on a ‘pay for what you use’ basis. Anyone over 25 with a valid driving license can apply to join. Whenever members want to use a car they can book a trip online via a computer or smartphone. The number of miles and hours of use are recorded, and at the end of the month they get a bill based on the total hours and miles used.”

All sorts of people have joined, although if you need a car to go to work every day, then a car club is not for you. But if you just use a car a few times a week, then it could be a better solution. Some members are couples who use the car club instead of keeping a second car. Others wouldn’t be able to afford a decent car on their own, and some have given up their own car because it is cheaper for them to use the car club, or because they want to be free of the hassle of insurance, MOTs and repairs. Some join to get a choice of vehicles for different purposes.

Community member Yenna Lidmila in Forres High Street

Community member Yenna Lidmila in Forres High Street

Looking to the future he predicts the birth of more clubs like Moray Carshare and says: “As electric cars become cheaper and have a longer range, we will buy more of them, because they have a much lower carbon footprint – zero if they are charged from renewable sources like the trio we have at Findhorn. The cost of charging them is much cheaper per mile than for petrol or diesel cars.”

A concern for some would-be members is the question of availability. “If you book a car a couple of days in advance, then there is always one available. If you book the same day, there is usually one available, but it is not guaranteed. I haven’t heard of anyone leaving because there are not enough cars and as we grow, we continue to buy new cars, so availability stays high.

“Last year we expanded into Forres with two cars at two different locations – one at the Orchard Road car park, just off the High Street, and one on St Leonard’s Road. In January we added a family-sized estate car at Orchard Road and we are consideriung placing cars near the new housing developments on the Grantown Road, at the Enterprise Park and in Kinloss.

What does it really cost to own a car? People often forget to factor in all the costs of car ownership. In particular they often overlook depreciation, which is a huge factor. For example if you buy a new car for £9,000 and sell it after five years for £4,000, then it will have cost £1,000 a year in depreciation.

You can check out what your car costs you at this website.

Moray Carshare has two alternative pricing schemes to suit the varying needs of members.

​Sarah Mason plugs in to electric power that's mostly supplied by the community's own wind turbines

​Sarah Mason plugs in to electric power that’s mostly supplied by the community’s own wind turbines

Contract members pay a fixed monthly subscription of £16 with each trip costed out at 55p per hour or £8.80 for the whole day.

Pay As You Go members who are likely to use the cars less often pay an annual subscription of £16 and £2.75 per hour or £22 for a whole day.

All members pay 23p per mile for the first 20 miles and then 15p per mile for all remaining miles on standard cars.

Here are some quotes from current members about why they use the car-sharing scheme:

To be able to use a car whenever we need to at a cost we can afford.

I don’t have to worry about maintenance, garages and bills.

I have access to a fleet of cars for different needs.

There’s a sense of community and willingness to help one another.

There’s the environmental value and the benefit of sharing.

For further information visit the Moray Carshare website.

Geoff Dalglish

This entry was posted in Community News. . Bookmark the permalink.