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Lewes Car Club

08/03/11

For some time Travelman has been wanting to try out the car club, which is run by Commonwheels .  You have to sign up and pay a joining fee of £20 and go through through a number of routine procedures and then commit yourself to paying a minimum of £5 per month, which is deducted from any hire fees.

But for quite a long time I couldn’t find a use for it.  There are two cars, based in Pinwell Road and East Street car parks.  These are convenient locations, but by the time you have walked there you might as well walk on to your destination if it is in Lewes.  The cars could be very useful for carrying stuff about, but you really need a van for this.  I was frightened of scratching the car up.  For long journeys a train is more environmental and conventional car hire is cheaper. For many local journeys a bus is better.

But I did find a use for it when I wanted to get to Hurstpierpoint, a journey that is next to impossible by public transport.  It is simple to book a car on line at the Commonwheels web site and, perhaps because the scheme is new, it is often possible to book a car at short notice. I booked the car for 2 hours.  Picking up the car is very simple. You just touch a credit card size card against the sensor on the windscreen and the doors unlock.  The key is inside.

The cost is £3.54 per hour plus 19p a mile.  My trip cost me £13.43 for a round trip of about 33 miles, or just over 40p per mile.  Is that a good deal?  The cost of running a small car, including depreciation, which does about 10,000 miles per year, is about 39p per mile so, given that Commonwheels deal with all the hassle of organising the car that looks quite good.  I’m interested that I was quite shocked at the cost.  We are so used to counting car costs just on what we have to pay to fill up and park that we tend to forget the overall costs of the things. The cost is deducted from your account each month.

Will I use it enough to justify the £5 per month charge?  I don’t know. I’d be interested in your experiences of whether  or not the car club is worthwhile.

(note that the prices are 2011 prices)