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UK's first electric car sharing club launches

The UK’s low-carbon transport ambitions have moved up a gear today with the launch of the first entirely electric pay-per-use car club.

E-Car Club, which launches in East London before nationwide roll out, will allow businesses to reduce the cost and footprint of their fleets; make electric vehicles available to local communities; and tackle the growing problem of urban air pollution.

The first installation from E-Car Club will see the new Renault Zoe and the Renault Fluence coming to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in partnership with social landlord Poplar HARCA, which owns around 9,000 homes in the local area.

The organisation and its residents will benefit from access to a low-carbon, low-cost transport solution, whilst the pay-per-use club membership will make electric vehicles available to the community in an area of long-standing social and economic deprivation.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer opened the launch and commented: “E-Car Club is a scheme that kills three birds with one stone - congestion, cost and carbon. This government is serious in its support for ultra-low emission vehicles. […] Government also funds measures to help with the delivery of infrastructure and we have recently announced a further £500m to provide long-term support for the sector.”

MP for Poplar and Limehouse Jim Fitzpatrick; electric vehicle enthusiast and TV presenter Robert Llewellyn; Ben Fletcher, electric vehicle product manager at Renault UK, and Babu Bhattacherjee, director of communities and neighbourhoods at Poplar HARCA were amongst the guests joining local residents and members of the E-Car Club team for the launch.

E-Car Club combines the increasing popularity of pay-per-use car clubs as an attractive, affordable alternative to traditional car ownership, with the improving performance and reduced price of electric vehicles.

The total cost of ownership for an electric fleet is lower than for petrol alternatives at car club utilisation levels and offers a considerably more sustainable, lower emissions solution.

The company was founded in 2011, with investment from Sustainable Venture Partners and the Technology Strategy Board, to offer easy, affordable access to low carbon transport for both businesses and communities.

The mixed-use model brings together the needs of corporate customers that have costly and carbon-intensive fleet requirements, with those in the local community who want easy and affordable access to low carbon vehicles.

The London launch builds on the success of two pilot projects: a community-led project in Milton Keynes launched in October 2012 and a partnership with Luton Borough Council earlier this year.

The company will be opening similar schemes in Oxford, University of Hertfordshire and Maylands Business Park in the coming months and plans to roll these out across the country.

“The E-Car mission is a simple, if ambitious, one. We want to improve mobility on a local level whilst simultaneously reducing both the cost and environmental impact of each journey taken,” said Christopher Morris, co-founder of E-Car Club. “We expect this to be the first of many such schemes and look forward to launching hubs across London and the South East in 2014.”

Government is committed to making the UK the electric car capital of Europe and the Committee on Climate Change has stated that the ‘car club’ business model could be instrumental in challenging preconceptions and driving the wider adoption of EVs.

The Transport Research Laboratory estimates that replacing just 10% of UK business fleet with electric vehicles would reduce emissions by half a million tonnes of CO2 per annum.

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