Written evidence from CoMoUk (ELV0108) 

Submission to the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee’s Call for Evidence on Electric Vehicles

15 September 2023

 

This submission is focussed specifically on responding to Question 16: What is the value and role of alternative transport models such as car clubs and micro mobility vehicles in the Government achieving the 2030 phase out date, and how should the Government consider their roles and opportunities for use in transport decarbonisation?

 

  1. Introduction

1.1               This response is from CoMoUK (Collaborative Mobility UK), the national charity dedicated to the social, economic and environmental benefits of shared transport. CoMoUK supports and promotes the development of shared modes of transport such as car clubs, bike and e-bike share, e-scooter share, lift sharing, and demand responsive transport. This is achieved through unique research, an extensive stakeholder network, detailed guidance documents, support and consultancy work, and policy and advocacy activity across the UK. CoMoUK also serves as the accreditation body for car club operators in the UK.

1.2              CoMoUK has been campaigning for several years on the need to support electric vehicles in car clubs[1] and want to ensure the committee is aware of the importance of the role that shared transport can play in helping meet the 2030 and 2035 deadlines.

 

  1. Role of car clubs

2.1              Car clubs allow users to access a vehicle without owning one and offer a flexible, cost-effective alternative to private car ownership or leasing. Across the UK the total fleet size is nearly 6,000 vehicles, and membership of UK car clubs now stands at over 750,000, an increase of 113% compared to 2019.

2.2              Car clubs can help deliver against wide-ranging objectives – as well as supporting transport decarbonisation, they can help improve air quality; increase vehicle occupancy rates; reduce parking pressures and congestion; provide affordable access to cars, particularly in areas of social deprivation; and offer an additional sustainable transport option that can fill gaps in public transport provision.

 

  1. Impact of car clubs

3.1              CoMoUK undertakes an annual survey of UK car club users to gauge the impact of and trends in car club membership. The latest (2022) survey shows that car clubs are effective at reducing overall numbers of private vehicles: 19% of members got rid of a private car after joining, and 27% said they would have bought or leased a car if they had not joined. On average, when taking into account reductions in cars owned or purchases that didn’t occur, each car club vehicle in the UK replaced 22 private cars in 2022. Additionally, joining a car club led to members reducing their overall mileage driven, with an average annual reduction of around 5%.

 

  1. Car clubs and EVs

4.1              The UK’s car clubs are leading the way on transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs). Around 14% of UK car club vehicles are already EVs compared to less than 2% of the overall UK car fleet. Car club members can use and become familiar with driving EVs at a fraction of the financial cost of buying or leasing one. The latest CoMoUK survey found that 91% of car club users who have driven a car club EV said they were satisfied with the experience.

4.2              Car clubs will be going fully electric faster than the private car fleet as the impact of the 2030 deadline takes effect, as car club vehicles are replaced more quickly (60% of current cars are less than two years old) than the private car fleet. The speed of replacement for car club vehicles will also help increase the availability of EVs for private use in the second-hand market.

 

  1. Current government policy on EVs in car clubs

5.1              The government has already given clear support for car clubs to go fully zero emission. The 2021 Transport Decarbonisation Plan stated that, “As car club fleets contain newer vehicles, they can lead the transition to zero emission vehicles. Successful car clubs with zero emission vehicles could support users to choose zero emissions should they buy a vehicle in the future.”

5.2              The subsequent 2022 Local Authority Toolkit on car clubs[2] produced by the Department for Transport (DfT), part of a suite of toolkits aimed at supporting transport decarbonisation, emphasised the need for local authorities to provide access to EV charging infrastructure when developing car club operations. It stated that, “Local authorities have a role to play in promoting car clubs by ensuring policies and interventions supporting car clubs are integrated with wider local transport and net zero strategies.Furthermore, “working with car club operators, chargepoint operators and distribution network operators (DNOs) will be important to enable appropriate provision of charging infrastructure for electric car club vehicles.

5.3              The DfT’s recent consultation on the proposed zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate for car manufacturers from 2024, that will set minimum annual targets for the percentage of new car and van sales that must be zero emission, specifically recognised the advantages of encouraging greater use of EVs in car clubs. The proposed scheme envisages providing an additional 0.5 credits to new ZEVs that are registered for use in an approved car club. If implemented, this would represent unprecedented support from the government to specifically support EV use in car clubs.

5.4              Despite official support for the growth of EV use in car clubs, there remains no government policy programme for helping develop them, and car clubs continue to operate without subsidy.

 

  1. EV infrastructure for car clubs

6.1              A factor holding back growth of EV use in car clubs has been lack of dedicated infrastructure. Until recently, the government’s main funding programme for EV infrastructure, the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS), specifically excluded funding charging infrastructure for car clubs. This has now finally been changed in the latest funding round for ORCS, and more significantly, the government’s new funding stream, the Local EV Infrastructure Fund (LEVI) allows proposals for infrastructure funding that can include provision for car club vehicles.

 

7.              Micromobility

7.1              Shared micromobility, including shared bikes, shared e-bikes, and shared e-scooters (the only type that can currently be legally used on UK roads), has been rapidly growing and is increasingly important in allowing people to travel without the need for a private vehicle. There are 2.5m active members of bike share schemes alone in the UK, and bike share schemes recorded close to 20 million hires in 2022, equal to over 54,000 rides per day. The number of available e-bikes in bike share schemes more than doubled in the year to September 2022. Shared schemes can support behaviour change and modal shift by providing a credible alternative to individual car ownership: CoMoUK’s latest annual bike share survey found that 37% of bike share users would have made their most common bike share trip by car (as driver, passenger, or by taxi or hire vehicle), had bike share not been available.

7.2              Shared e-scooters’ modal shift credentials have also proven to be strong, despite the requirement for riders to have driving licences. Data from the DfT’s own study into the English shared e-scooter trials[3] found that 21% of all e-scooter rides replaced a trip by private car or taxi. We know from years of CoMoUK research that users using one form of shared transport use other forms of shared transport more than they used to, use public transport more than they used to, and also walk and cycle more. These are precisely the behaviours that need to be replicated at scale to support modal shift and give car users the confidence that their travel needs can be met without personal vehicle ownership. However, the benefits that e-scooters can bring are being held back by the government’s ongoing delay in introducing legislation to properly legalise and regulate their use.

 

  1. Conclusion

8.1              Meeting the 2030 phase-out target will require change at a rapid pace, and if it is to be achieved then all available policy tools will be needed. Greater use of car clubs and shared micromobility can play an important role in this. To maximise the potential benefits, we would propose a series of interventions that should be considered:

 

8.2              We would like to thank the committee for choosing to address the issue of how the phasing out deadlines for non-zero emission vehicles will be met, and we would be more than happy to discuss any of the points we have raised further on request.

 


[1] See Electric Vehicles in Car Clubs, CoMoUK 2022

[2] Car clubs: local authority toolkit - www.gov.uk

[3] National evaluation of e-scooter trials report, DfT 2022