Background and setup
The LEAP car club in Renfrewshire has cars placed in two diverse locations. Lochwinnoch is a village with good transport links into Glasgow. The main target group for the car club are individuals who would be able to dispose of (or avoid acquiring) a second vehicle. The second location is supported by the housing association that covers Linwood and Johnstone. The vehicles are subsidised by the housing association, which provides low-cost access to a car for their residents, and uses the vehicles as pool cars.
Before launching the scheme 2012, a feasibility study was undertaken to assess the need and viability of operating a car club. The scheme now has around 60 members and five vehicles (Nissan Leaf and Toyota Yaris models) which covered nearly 15,000 miles in 2019. One challenge in the setup and initial running of the scheme was the administrative burden and associated cost. To mitigate this, LEAP has installed telematics in the vehicles to simplify the billing process.
Users and impacts
LEAP Car Club members find the car club means that they can sell or do not have to purchase a (second) car, meaning the main objective of the scheme is being achieved. Members report saving hundreds of pounds annually by using the car club rather than private vehicles. The link with the housing association where the vehicles are subsidised is improving social mobility and increasing access to low carbon transport.
The impact of restrictions to control Covid-19 has been a significant challenge for the LEAP; the car club shut down during spring 2020 and has seen a drop in membership numbers. Subsequently, LEAP has improved members’ confidence in the scheme by implementing appropriate cleaning and disinfection routines. They are yet to see what this impact will have in the long term.
What has made them successful?
The primary factor in LEAP’s success is deploying the cars in areas with significant community support, and in particular linking with Linstone Housing Association. A second success factor is securing ongoing operational funding to provide and retain staff.