Car-sharing clubs are becoming ever more popular in the UK. As the cost of motoring rises, there's a real appeal to 'pay-as-you-go' motoring – and now, residents of Poole can hire one of three electric cars – but only when the city council isn't using them.
The three Nissan Leaf EVs will only be available outside of council working hours 8am-6pm, Monday-Friday, when they'll be used by council staff for business purposes. Outside of these hours, and on public holidays, they can be rented by members of the public for personal use.
Those in the Co-Wheels car club running the scheme can book a car online over the phone, and it's accessed using their membership card – no keys needed. Insurance is included, and the cars should be kept with their batteries topped up, giving a theoretical maximum range of 235 miles. If drivers need more power when they're out and about, they can plug into the Chargernet network.
Usefully, the multi-storey car park where the electric vehicles will be based generates electricity via solar panels, making the Nissans truly eco-friendly.
Julian McLaughlin, Poole council's head of growth and infrastructure, told the Bournemouth Echo: "In the current financial climate we need to look at how we can do things differently and still benefit Poole residents. By using car clube vehicles rather than their own cars, our staff will be demonstrating that electric vehicles are a viable, zero emission alternative to conventional vehicles.
"The car club cars will also save the council money compared to staff using their own vehicles for business travel."
Councillor Ian Potter from the Borough of Poole, added: "If the Poole Car Club proves really popular then we will consider adding more vehicles as membership and usage grows.
"I'm also pleased that the electric vehicles based at the Civic Centre will use electricity generated by the solar panels installed on the multi-storey car park. This is a UK first and a great example of how our joined-up energy thinking can benefit Poole in the longer term."
While the scheme within Poole only operates electric cars, the wider Co-Wheels network offers combustion-engined vehicles if needed.