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New car club operators announced

Plymouth’s drive to make people less reliant on private cars is back on the road with a new contract for a car club as part of Connect Plymouth – the city’s expanding sustainable travel network.

Electric vehicle being charged

A decision has been signed to award a contract to Co Wheels CIC, now the UK’s largest community interest car club operator.

The company runs pay-as-you go car clubs, pool car fleet management and franchise operations in over 60 towns and cities across the UK with a 24/7 call centre.

The Plymouth fleet will be all electric vehicles and people will be able to book them online, on apps on their phones to pick up at hubs which are dotted across the city.

This contract has been re-procured following the unfortunate demise of Exeter based Co Cars, which went into administration last July.

Councillor Mark Coker, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport said: “Welcome Co Wheels to Plymouth. We have been delighted to see how much Plymouth people have taken to the Beryl bikes and the growing interest in electric vehicles.

“We think there is a real appetite for people to explore greener ways of getting around and a car club is a great addition to our offer. Not only is an electric vehicle for hire greener, it is cheaper than a car sitting outside homes costing money in MOT, tax, servicing and fuel.”

The scheme will provide at least 10 vehicles which will be available for hire 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. This is for an initial period of four years with an option to extend. The first cars are expected to be on the streets later this Spring.

The Council’s Connect Plymouth network now has 105 e-bike sites across the city, with 689 docks and over 500 e-bikes now in operation. There are nine rapid EV charge point sites provided by WENEA now up and running with a further 15 being built and an additional 20 sites due to come online during 2024.

Councillor Tom Briars-Delve, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change added: “Transport accounts for 30 per cent of the city's total emissions and is an area which requires a major change in public behaviour if we are to achieve our net zero target.

“Electric vehicles play a key part in this, but we realise to own one is out of reach for many people. Being part of a car club that gives you easy access to electric vehicles can only be a massive step in the right direction. I look forward to joining the club.”

Connect Plymouth is part funded by the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund (TCF), which aims to change people’s travel habits by making it as easy as possible for people to choose low carbon options to get about.

The schemes improve access to work, restart the city's growth agenda, deliver homes, safeguard and create new jobs.  It is also designed to improve air quality and reduce the city’s overall carbon emissions as a direct response to the city's climate emergency declaration.