New pay-per-minute car hire scheme comes to UK

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New pay-per-minute car hire scheme comes to UK

A new car hire scheme that allows users to stroll up to a vehicle, unlock it , drive it and then drop it off in designated parking areas but only pay per minute is making waves across the UK.

German company car2go has introduced the scheme to Birmingham where 250 small cars – usually two-seater Smart cars - are available to registered users for a flat fee.

Members must pay an initial fee of £29.90 to become registered, they are then issued with a card that unlocks the vehicles parked in and around the city centre.

Unlike other pay-and-go car rental schemes such as Zipcar, car2go users can book their vehicles as little as 30 minutes in advance.

The car can then be driven at a cost of 35p a minute or an hourly maximum of £14.90 and dropped back to any car2go space within the city.

Registered users also benefit from the parking rights secured by car2go that allow its vehicles to be parked in nearly any legal spot, including pay-and-display and resident-only zones.

Although longer journeys would end up costing more than rivals Zipcar, the car2go scheme benefits those wanting low cost, shorter journeys.

A short hop in one of the rental cars can cost as little as £2.50 compared to the seven or eight pounds spent in a taxi.

Car2go user Calum Brannan told The Guardian: "It just gives you that extra flexibility, not having to plan in advance and be lumped with a car."

The German firm hopes to make inroads to the London car rental market but says progress has been slow.

"Londoners are really interested in car-sharing, and the market potential is huge," said chief executive Robert Heinrich.

But of all the cities car2go has worked with, "London is one of the most difficult", and it is likely to take a year or more to build a wider operation there.