Aberdeen City Council had two key transport challenges: a pool fleet that was resource-heavy to manage and high grey fleet mileage (business miles travelled in employee-owned vehicles). The grey fleet presents a number of risks to employers in terms of ensuring drivers and their private vehicles are road-fit. There are also many additional costs including resource for mileage claim administration and license, insurance and vehicle checks.
In addition to tackling the two issues above, the Council was keen to help reduce the city’s environmental impact and improve air quality.
In April 2012, following an Energy Saving Trust Grey Fleet Review and in line with its Local Transport Strategy, Aberdeen City Council used Scottish Government Air Quality Funding to launch the ‘Aberdeen Co-wheels Car Club’ to replace its existing pool fleet and, where possible, grey fleet miles. The benefits were clear; reduced resource time on managing the car pool booking system and grey fleet admin, reduced costs from mileage claims and the associated admin costs, and access to newer, more efficient vehicles. Shifting from grey fleet to a car club also helped the Council mitigate risk in terms of duty-of-care requirements.
The establishment of a car club also allowed businesses and residents in Aberdeen access to a car when needed, demonstrating a very effective way to deliver community services in urban areas and helping to reduce private car ownership.
The car club currently has 600 members, with 20 vehicles, making it one of the most successful car clubs in the UK, and the first car club to introduce electric vehicles in Scotland. The financial savings for Aberdeen City Council have been significant, with approximately £40,000 currently being saved annually.
The Council also found a wider range of benefits in comparison with a pool fleet, including:
- 24/7 availability of vehicles, easy online booking and access to car keys
- vehicles provided in a large range of locations
- reduced overall business mileage
- benefits for staff through free personal membership
- maintenance secured by a three-year replacement cycle
- car club drivers encouraged to try electric and more fuel-efficient vehicles
“The car club has enabled us to make good our action in the Local Transport Strategy and to provide an economic and social service to our citizens. Residents, businesses, third sector organisations and visitors are now able to easily access a vehicle instead of having their own vehicle with all the associated headaches. We believe our car club is also reducing parking pressure, congestion and improving air quality.”
Alan Simpson, planner, Aberdeen City Council