Car sales stall while rental services accelerate

Car Club street sign in Edinburgh city centre
Car Club street sign in Edinburgh city centre

By Elizabeth Gorrie

Membership of pay-as-you-go car rental service City Car Club has rocketed as Edinburgh drivers look for alternatives to private car ownership.

The Edinburgh based club, which also operates in seven cities across the UK, has “hundreds” of cars parked across the capital which can be booked for as little as £3.96 per hour. Already this year 300 new members have joined the club and statistics show that a hundred more are joining every month.

Last week it was revealed by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders that car sales in the Lothians have dropped by 30% over the last year. City Car Club CEO James Finlayson said, “The increase in new members is totally unprecedented, we have never seen an increase like this since the club was formed in 2002. In the last six months of 2008 membership really shot up. We thought they would peak at the end of last year but they have continued to rise in 2009”.

hiring a Car Club car will be cheaper than buying
hiring a Car Club car will be cheaper than buying

City Car Club claims that savings of over £1,600 can be made by using its vehicle rather than owning a car. The running cost of a second-hand Vauxhall Corsa can reach over £3,000. Insurance, road tax, servicing and maintenance, and breakdown costs are all included in this. A City Car Club would see many costs cut such as road tax.

So is this the end of the car industry as we know it? Across the UK this year so far 137,730 new cars have been bought, compared to 313,912 by the same time last year.

However, many road users do not expect this slump to last. One car salesman said, ” I think the City Car Club’s profits will last for as long as the credit crunch. Given how much worth people place on owning and maintaining a car it seems unlikely that will stop”.