Tower Hamlets becomes first place in UK to have pay-per-use electric vehicle club, in a move intended to help improve air quality
The UKâ€™s first entirely electric pay-per-use car rental club was launched in Poplar, East London, by transport minister Baroness Susan Kramer yesterday (October 23).
The car club will see Renault Zoe and Renault Fluence vehicles coming to the London borough of Tower Hamlets to enable businesses and residents in the community to book and rent the electric cars for between an hour and up to several weeks 24 hours a day.
According to E-Car Club, which runs the scheme, each vehicle will help achieve a 50-5kg reduction in nitrous oxide emissions per year and a 1-2kg reduction in particulate matter emitted in urban areas.
The car club scheme was also praised by London Mayor Boris Johnson, which he said showed that his plan for an ultra-low emission zone in London was beginning to drive action.
Mr Johnson said the scheme was a â€œhighly innovative first for London, which directly contributes to the delivery of many of my priorities: improving Londonâ€™s air quality and quality of life, London being the electric vehicle capital of Europe, and enabling Londoners to access new jobs and opportunities.â€
The project was installed by E-Car Club in partnership with social landlord Poplar Housing Regeneration and Community Association (HARCA), which owns 9,000 homes in the local area.
Speaking at the launch, Baroness Kramer said: â€œHere is a scheme that kills three birds with one stone – congestion, cost and carbon. This government is serious in its support for ultra-low emission vehicles.
â€œWe already provide consumer incentives – each of the cars used by e-car will have cost Â£5,000 less than they would have otherwise, thanks to our Plug-in Car Grant. Government also funds measures to help with the delivery of infrastructure and we have recently announced a further Â£500m to provide long-term support for the sector.â€
Levels of nitrogen dioxide on some of Londonâ€™s busiest roads â€“ such as the A14 that runs through Poplar â€“ are nearly three times the legal limit.
Also attending the launch was MP for Poplar and Limehouse, Jim Fitzpatrick, who commented: â€œAccess to electric cars at affordable rates will be a fantastic addition to the transport infrastructure of the area. We need to find ways for people to get around without further contributing to the already high levels of pollution on the A13 and this is a great option.â€
Todayâ€™s launch follows a similar community-led pilot project started in Milton Keynes in October 2012, as well as a partnership with Luton borough council that was launched earlier this year.
E-Car plans to open similar schemes in Oxford, University of Hertfordshire and Maylands Business Park in the coming months before rolling them out across the country.
The company was founded in 2011 with investment from Sustainable Venture Partners and the Technology Strategy Board, to offer affordable access to low carbon transport for both businesses and communities.
Christopher Morris, co-founder of E-Car Club, said: â€œThe E-Car mission is a simple, if ambitious, one. We want to improve mobility on a local level whilst simultaneously reducing both the cost and environmental impact of each journey taken. We expect this to be the first of many such schemes and look forward to launching hubs across London and the South East in 2014.â€
The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) estimates that replacing just 10% of the UK business fleet with electric vehicles would reduce carbon emissions by 500,000 tonnes per year.