Car sharing - what is it and could it work for you?

Car sharing companies allow you to rent a car quickly and easily for short periods. This sounds ideal for inner-city dwellers and tourists, so we find out how well it works...

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Claire Evans
10 April 2019

Car sharing

To find out if car sharing is a more affordable alternative to traditional car hire or car ownership, we examined the cost of hiring a hatchback for a weekend from eight car sharing services and two hire companies. For each booking, we tried to get a family-sized hatchback and booked the car from 6pm on a Friday to 6pm on a Sunday. 


Company name: Co-wheels

Type of hirer: company

Car booked: 2018 Toyota Yaris Hybrid

Joining fee / monthly fee: £25 / £5 (refunded against the cost of renting)

Deposit: na

Distance to car: 4.8 miles

Admin fee: na

Fuel / mileage cost: 18p per mile

Mileage limit / excess mileage fee: na / na

Weekend cost: £138 


Company name: Drivy

Type of hirer: peer to peer

Car booked: 2015 Ford Focus 1.6 diesel

Joining fee / monthly fee: na/ na

Deposit: £250

Distance to car: 5.1 miles

Admin fee: na

Fuel / mileage cost: Tank must be topped up to original level

Mileage limit / excess mileage fee: 100 miles / 18p per mile

Weekend cost: £135


Company name: E-Car Club

Type of hirer: company

Car booked: 2018 Nissan Leaf

Joining fee / monthly fee: £50/ na

Deposit: na

Distance to car: 16.2 miles

Admin fee: na

Fuel / mileage cost: na

Mileage limit / excess mileage fee: 100 miles / 34p per mile

Weekend cost: £159


Company name: Enterprise Car Club

Type of hirer: company

Car booked: 2017 Toyota Auris Hybrid

Joining fee / monthly fee: na/ na

Deposit: na

Distance to car: 1.5 miles

Admin fee: £3.48

Fuel / mileage cost: 21p per mile

Mileage limit / excess mileage fee: na / na

Weekend cost: £125


Company name: Hiyacar

Type of hirer: peer to peer

Car booked: 2015 Vauxhall Astra 1.6 petrol

Joining fee / monthly fee: na/ na

Deposit: na

Distance to car: 5.1 miles

Admin fee: £21.50

Fuel / mileage cost: Tank must be topped up to original level

Mileage limit / excess mileage fee: na / na

Weekend cost: £160


Company name: Turo

Type of hirer: peer to peer

Car booked: 2017 Volkswagen Golf 1.4 petrol

Joining fee / monthly fee: na/ na

Deposit: na

Distance to car: 6.4 miles

Admin fee: £15.82

Fuel / mileage cost: Tank must be topped up to original level

Mileage limit / excess mileage fee: na / na

Weekend cost: £136


Company name: Zipcar

Type of hirer: company

Car booked: 2018 Volkswagen Golf 1.0 petrol

Joining fee / monthly fee: na/ na

Deposit: na

Distance to car: 0.7 miles

Admin fee: na

Fuel / mileage cost: na

Mileage limit / excess mileage fee: 60 miles / 24p per mile

Weekend cost: £146


Company name: Forest Row Car Club

Type of hirer: community club

Car booked: 2017 Toyota Yaris Hybrid

Joining fee / monthly fee: £11.75 / £5.88

Deposit: na

Distance to car: 50.2 miles

Admin fee: na

Fuel / mileage cost: 29p per mile

Mileage limit / excess mileage fee: na / na

Weekend cost: £118


Company name: Europcar

Type of hirer: company

Car booked: 2018 Vauxhall Astra 

Joining fee / monthly fee: na / na

Deposit: £250

Distance to car: 3.5 miles

Admin fee: na

Fuel / mileage cost: Tank must be filled before return

Mileage limit / excess mileage fee: na / na

Weekend cost: £173


Company name: Avis

Type of hirer: company

Car booked: 2018 Ford Focus

Joining fee / monthly fee: na / na

Deposit: £200

Distance to car: 4.8 miles

Admin fee: na

Fuel / mileage cost: Tank must be filled before return

Mileage limit / excess mileage fee: na / na

Weekend cost: £117


What Car? says…

Car sharing is great for those who live in a city and need a car only occasionally. It’s especially useful for when you are going on a weekend away, are travelling to and from an airport or need to transport large items. 

But if you need a car for your daily commute, owning or leasing are still by far the best options. 

The situation is changing, though. The growth of community car clubs and other car sharing platforms, along with the mindset of younger people who aren’t as wedded to the idea of ownership, will increase the use of car sharing and other mobility solutions. 

Car sharing doesn’t look like great value compared with leasing, though. The cost of leasing a Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 115 Match for two years (including road tax) is £8685, or £362 per month, although that price doesn’t take into account other incidental costs, which could add a big chunk of cash to the overall cost. That same monthly amount gives you only five or six days’ worth of car sharing, or a higher number of short periods. 

Annoyingly, not all car sharing services make it easy for users to find out the total price of renting. You have to sign up and book a car with peer-to-peer platforms to see the entire cost, including any administration fees, and that still won’t include the cost of fuel. Also, many car owners won’t lend you their car for less than four hours. 

So, community car clubs and big car sharing companies are better value for short loans. But you need to make sure you work out the total cost of a car sharing service to ensure it still isn’t pricier than traditional hiring or using a ride hailing service such as Uber.

Indeed, most services are more expensive than traditional car hire companies if you want a car for a weekend, but they are much more likely to provide cars that are significantly closer to you.

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