Case study: Tunbridge Wells car club

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council have supported a car sharing scheme since 2014. It's called the Tunbridge Wells Car Club.

Car clubs let people access community cars when they need one. They can do this without having to own their own vehicle.

The scheme supports their goal to:

  • reduce carbon emissions in the borough
  • ease congestion on the roads
  • improve the area's overall air quality.

The problem they faced

Air pollution is the UK's biggest threat. Emissions from transport are a major cause of air pollution. This is especially true in towns, cities, and other urban areas.

Any plan to cut the number of vehicles on the road must tackle the fact that, for many people, a car is required for:

  • school
  • commuting
  • family care
  • independence.

What did they do

In 2014, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council worked with Co-wheels. They set up a pilot project with 2 community cars. The project was to see how popular a car sharing program would be.

Those who signed up could use the cars. The cars were parked at key places in the center of Tunbridge Wells. They were on a pay-as-you-go basis.

The pilot was funded by contributions from local property developers. These are known as Section 106 funding. Co-wheels match-funded it. It cost the taxpayer nothing.

The plan was very popular. Both cars were in high demand. So, 3 extra cars were added over the next 2 years.


As of December 2022, there are now 5 cars available to the car club's 550 members. On average, 93 active users access the cars from the car club each month.

Research has shown that each car club car takes at least 20 private cars off the road. This saves space on the roads and eases parking pressure.

The borough council estimate that the car club has cut the borough's carbon dioxide by 6,800 tonnes a year.

Also, research shows that joining a car club leads to lower car ownership and fewer car miles. Car club members tend to walk, bike, and use public transit more.

The benefits for drivers are great too. They would save £3,500. This is compared to the cost of owning, maintaining, and fuelling their own car.

Feedback from car club users

I enjoy the flexibility of being able to jump in a car to go into the countryside.

It's greener than owning a car and it's easy, convenient, and cost-effective.

The future

The car-club is getting more popular. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is working to add 3 extra cars to meet demand. The council hope to add electric vehicles to the club too, once enough chargers are in place to support it.

The car club still runs at no cost to the taxpayer. It is entirely self-sufficient. It only uses extra Section 106 funding to support expansion.

Contact us

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