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Autocar launches new scheme for learners

  • What Car?'s sister title launches new scheme
  • Autocar Start aims to help learner drivers
  • Car, tuition and insurance for 299 a month
Words ByAlex Newby

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What Car? sister title Autocar is piloting a scheme designed make motoring more affordable and safer for learner drivers, both before and after they pass their test.

The three-year scheme is called Autocar Start. When learners sign up they're provided with a new car, fully comprehensive telematics-based insurance and all the tuition they'll need to be safe on the roads, for a fixed monthly fee of 299.

Autocar editor Jim Holder said: 'Autocar is all about accessible, safe, fun motoring, and today's young drivers face a multitude of barriers to enjoying that.

'The cost of owning a car, insuring it and getting the right training to be as safe as possible on the roads is prohibitive, so we set out to put together a package that offers a competitive cost and peace of mind for the driver and the bill payer'.

The initiative is being launched in partnership with Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy and Carrot Insurance (underwritten by Zurich), and will provide learner drivers with a new Smart Fortwo, 40 hours of tuition and Carrot's telematics-based car insurance.

The driving tuition is provided by Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy teachers, who are located across the country and who will give driving lessons in a dual-controlled A- or B-Class.

A deposit of 500 is required and payments are made over three years with a yearly mileage cap of 10,000 miles. The Fortwo does an average of 67.3mpg, while its CO2 emissions of 97g/km mean it is exempt from road tax.

However, even if a learner passes their test within their first six months on the scheme, they will only be able to take their Smart out on their own once they've had the car for a full six months. Participants will also be required to attend a one-day advanced-tuition session in each year of the scheme.

A three-hour 'Parent and partner' course, where parents are brought up to speed with current driving standards and are taught how to to support a learner driver, is also a mandatory part of the agreement.

Carrot's telematics-based insurance uses an in-car 'black box' data recorder to monitor the young motorist's driving style, such as the way they accelerate and brake, and the length of journeys made, but there is no night-time curfew or other restrictions.

To begin with, just 200 places will be offered nationwide and anyone holding a provisional licence will be able to apply.

Full details of the Autocar Start scheme can be found at www.autocar.co.uk/autocarstart.