Hour Car: A car share scheme in Calderdale
Background and setup
Hour Car is a community car share scheme operating in the upper Calder Valley, West Yorkshire, that has been in operation since January 2004. As of July 2023 Hour Car has 6 vehicles and over 70 members. They are a co-operative owned company that is run by its members. Hour car is registered as Hour Car (Un) Limited, and are a not-for-profit organisation that reinvests any surplus back into the business.
Hour Car has a range of manual and automatic vehicles of varying sizes in their current fleet, so that there is something to fit everyone’s preference. There is an emphasis on flexibility within each car, for example the small cars have five doors and five seats, to have cars which appeal to a wider audience. Hour Car does not have any vehicles that emit more than 100g per km C02. While Hour Car has been encouraged to trade in older vehicles for newer models, they are hesitant to do so due to the increase of C02 from the embedded energy of new vehicles.
Currently, Hour Car has two EVs in their fleet, one in Hebden Bridge and one in Todmorden. They additionally have three petrol elective hybrid vehicles, with two in Hebden Bridge and one in Todmorden.
Users and impacts
Hour Car estimate the cost savings for users of their car club as an alternative to private car ownership. An individual that uses a car club vehicle, within the range of over 8 hours a month and less than 12 hours a week, could see an approximate £1000 cost savings per year.
Hour Car would like to see a reduction of vehicle emissions by offering a cost efficient alterative to private car ownership. A reduction of C02 emissions is a priority for Hour Car, and the majority of C02 savings from car clubs comes from having less cars on the road.
In the longer term, Hour Car would like to be a sustainable and financially viable organisation that highlights both the financial and environmental benefits of car and ride sharing, and encourages adjacent communities to establish similar car share schemes.
Hour Car has plans to partner with Community Transport Calderdale, a charity that aims to provide transportation for the residents of Calderdale and Kirklees who are unable to access existing transportation due to health issues, disabilities, isolation, poverty, and social exclusion. The partnership would be a joint scheme where volunteers from Community Transport Calderdale could access Hour Car EVs. This would lead to joint usage between volunteers and car share users, which would increase the usage of the vehicle and provide access to parking in council estates.
What has made them successful?
Hour Car attributes their success to a combination of the following: their diverse funding sources, their decision to buy their fleet rather than lease, and help from their volunteers.
Hour Car receives funding through a combination of income from membership fees and hires, grants and loan stocks that are purchased by car club members.
Membership and hire fees
Membership costs £125 per year for the first member, and then £60 for each additional household or business member, with a £25 one-off joining fee. Hire fees start at £4.20 per hour for the first three hours, then £2.10 per hour. The daily rate is capped at £37, and the weekly rate is capped at £185. These prices are as of August 2023.
Hour car started out with grant funding, but at this point in their operations Hour Car only relies on grants to replace older vehicles with electric vehicles.
In addition to using grant funding for buying new vehicles, Hour Car also raises money from their members through loan stocks. Members can put in money over a 1-3 year period and then claim up to 3% interest. Most members claim around 1% interest, which makes this method of raising money cheaper than commercial options.
Buying their fleet
When Hour Car was first founded in 2004, they differentiated themselves from other car share schemes by buying their car club vehicles rather than leasing them. The benefits of buying a car over leasing include an overall cost savings and the ability to hold onto the vehicle for longer when going through a hard financial period.
Hour Car views volunteers as essential, necessary and useful. They utilise volunteers to fill the gap of work that Hour Car team members struggle to complete during the working day. The process for becoming a volunteer at Hour Car is set up like a job contract, where the list of what work will be done, the expectations of that how and when the work will be completed and the reward for the work being done is agreed upon. Compensation for volunteers is normally one hour of free car club usage for every hour of work completed. Examples of work done by volunteers include the creation of Hour Car’s new website, and looking after car club vehicles.