Business and pleasure collide as Co-wheels launches in Dundee


9th September 2015

Amidst the low hum of an electric car engine, Dundee actor Sam Robertson, created a stir when he called in on the unveiling of a fleet of 14 cars, half of which are fully electric, at the launch of Co-wheels Car Club to the student population of Dundee yesterday.

Swapping the red carpet for a green transport initiative, the Dundee born actor, who played Adam Barlow in Coronation Street, is currently starring in Robert Carlyle\'s directorial debut movie The Legend of Barney Thompson alongside Emma Thomson and Ray Winstone, called in at the launch of the UK\'s largest independent car sharing club operator Co-wheels in Dundee, even taking one of the hybrid cars for a quick spin.

The event, which took place outside Abertay University\'s Bernard King Library, saw Co-wheels reveal the range of cars on offer to members, as well as host live music sets from local bands.

With activity taking place right at the heart of Dundee\'s student community, Co-wheels have also outlined a strategic relationship with National Entitlement Card (NEC), through which they are offering free membership of the Co-wheels car sharing scheme to all 1.7million NEC card holders across Scotland.

NEC work in partnership with Young Scot, and currently with over half a million Young Scot cardholders, the NEC enables car club members to get quick and easy access to vehicles. NEC holders can now take advantage of free membership to the Car Club plus £20.00 of driving credit to get them started.

This announcement comes hot on the heels of the service launching in Glasgow last week, with weatherman Sean Batty the first to take to the wheel in the city, immediately opening up the service to almost 140,000 students in Glasgow and Dundee set to start classes this week.

The Stonemouth & Beaver Falls star commented:

\"It\'s a pretty unique concept, but one that really works for people who dot around from city to city and perhaps need a car, but not all the time. My work can often take me around the country and sometimes I need a car, sometimes I don\'t. Co-wheels offers the perfect solution for getting about, or even for getting away from it all, in a very cost effective way. I\'m looking forward to trying the service out on Tuesday in my home town of Dundee.\"

Another well-kent face from Dundee, and himself no stranger to electric cars, Chris van der Kuyl, chairman of 4J Studios, the developers of Minecraft for the Microsoft Xbox console also popped round later in the day to test out the service.

The first Dundonian to own a magnificent Ford Tesla, Chris is well versed in the benefits of green travel, and couldn\'t resist the opportunity to try out some of the hybrid vehicles in the fleet. He also took the opportunity to highlight the service\'s benefits for business, announcing a relationship with Entrepreneurial Scotland members, the leading organization for high growth entrepreneurs in Scotland, to also get access for members to obtain business membership of the car sharing scheme, as well as driving credits to get them started.

Chris commented:

\"Services like Co-wheels are an amazing initiative for businesses and entrepreneurs. People move around so much now, our work lives can be incredibly nomadic and it\'s sometimes just not practical to have a single vehicle, but to have access to a network of vehicles across the country that you can use when you need them. It\'s not a new business model in many respects, car hire has been around for years.

\"What\'s new about it is that it\'s a shared ownership scheme so, the more members, the more flexibility the scheme has in providing service in additional spots. And, on top of that, you only need to pay for what you need. Need it for two hours? Then that\'s just fine - hire it for just two hours. It cuts out wastage, and everyone benefits. The fact the cars are hybrids is the cherry on the cake - you can save money on car ownership AND help the environment at the same time. Win:Win.\"

\"With over 12 cars removed from the roads for every car club car on the street, I was impressed to see that car club sharing schemes like this reduce congestion and simultaneously tackle air quality issues in the city centre so the benefits for the environment. I can truly see this being embraced by the Scottish business community, many of how conduct business in multiple cities, and I\'m delighted that Entrepreneurial Scotland can work with Co-wheels to make this happen.\"

Co-wheels is a social enterprise, and the UK\'s largest independent Car Club operator, operating car sharing schemes across the UK. The new Co-wheel cars will predominantly be Toyota Yaris hybrid vehicles, low emission Toyota Aygos, Renault Zoes and also a Nissan eNV200 electric van. They will be available from dedicated parking bays at existing locations in Dundee. The service is also active in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dumfries and North Berwick.

Richard Falconer, Director at Co-wheels said:

\"We are delighted to be working with Dundee City Council and Entrepreneurial Scotland to launch the Car Club scheme in Dundee today. More people are seeing car sharing as a convenient and low cost alternative to car ownership. When people sign up to a Car Club, they benefit from the flexibility of being able to book a car on a \"pay as you drive\" basis with none of the hassle of car ownership, parking or having to pick up keys from a hire company\'s offices. People experience all of the benefits with none of the hassle of owning a car. We are delighted to be able to bring our experience now to help expand the Glasgow scheme out to even more members.\"

Co-wheels is the largest Car Club operator in the UK with operations in more than 50 locations, from small villages to city centres. As a social enterprise, it ploughs all of its profits back into expanding the community car club network, and taking more cars off the road.

As a sector, car clubs are a rapidly expanding industry across the UK. Over the past five years, there has been sustained growth in Car Club membership to over 22,500 members using almost 700 vehicles in England and Wales, outside London. Co-wheels boasts a fleet of 450 cars and over 10,000 drivers currently using their service.

Richard Falconer from Co-wheels added:

\"As a social enterprise, Co-wheel\'s mission is to help members and partners to save money, reduce car ownership and create environmental benefit. Because Co-wheels is a Community Interest Company, profit is reinvested into operations to expand the service. Our company mission ties in well with Glasgow\'s aspiration to become a truly green pioneer and its ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2020.\"

Advantages of joining a car club include:

  • There are 3,040 fewer privately owned cars on Scotland\'s roads as a result of Car Club members selling, disposing of or deferring purchase of vehicles. 
  • Shared transport solution helps reduce congestion - 18% of drivers joining a Car Club in Scotland avoid buying a car;
  • Over 12 cars are removed from the roads for every car club car on the street, which also helps reduce parking congestion;
  • Electric and hybrid vehicles help tackle air quality issues in the city centre; 
  • Studies show Car Club vehicles are 37% less polluting than average public-owned car.
  • Car Club members are more likely to use public transport and active travel modes more as part of their personal transportation requirements.
  • Car Clubs Reduce congestion and parking issues in city centres.

Anybody wanting to sign up to the Co-wheels car club scheme should visit the website to register for membership:

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