Sharing cars can benefit us all

Sharing cars can benefit us all

By Emily Kerr

Emily Kerr is the founder of, a car-sharing advocacy organisation. @shareourcars on Twitter.

Cars can be convenient. But private car ownership is expensive (c. £4k a year in the UK). Cars cause congestion, take up space on the streets, and threaten the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Exhaust fumes damage people’s health and are one of the UK’s biggest contributors to the climate crisis . Car sharing offers a potential solution.

Sharing a vehicle takes cars off the streets and reduces the emissions associated with manufacture (25–50% of each car’s lifetime emissions). As I’ve learned from personal experience, if you don’t own a car, you’re much less likely to use one – which means you cycle and walk more, and get fitter.

How does it work?

Car sharing can be informal – borrowing a car from friends or family – or commercial – lift-sharing, car clubs and ‘Airbnb for cars’ platforms like Hiyacar and Turo. As the founder of campaign group ShareOurCars I’m supportive of all types of car sharing, but I’m particularly interested in the informal and community varieties.

I’ve spoken to people with all kinds of different arrangements. A man who shares his EV with ten neighbours he has added to his insurance policy. A woman who shares her car with her four flatmates, all contributing equal amounts and scheduling their usage via a Google doc. Two women who shared a car back in 1990, alternating usage weekly and deciding a year in advance which week they had the car so they could plan ahead and book holidays.

Closed-loop sharing groups

I collaborated with Hiyacar to create a new type of car sharing, called ‘closed loop’. A car owner can set up their own closed loop, of neighbours or friends, and only people in that group can borrow the car (or cars, in the case of bigger groups). It uses Hiyacar’s tech, insurance and booking system which makes it easy to manage, but it’s restricted to a trusted group of people. The car owner is paid a fee when their car is used, and by making their car available to other people they can help drive down car ownership.

EVs are particularly in demand but we’ve got various types of cars working in small or big loops, they just have to be less than 15 years old. It’s particularly good in areas which are too small to support conventional car clubs like Co Wheels. But in areas where car clubs operate it can help make more cars available closer by or for longer periods. In my area, many people use a couple of types of sharing.

So if you have a car which you don’t use every day, maybe you could think about sharing it informally, or on one of the peer-to-peer rental services like Hiyacar, Karshare, Getaround and Turo. If you prefer to keep your borrowers to a local group or list of friends, you can easily set up a closed loop. See for more details.

If you’re wondering whether you really need to own a car, or might be able to manage with one car rather than two in your household, it is worth considering car sharing.

In my household we’re now car-free and I can honestly say it’s been a breeze, because there are several local cars we can borrow whenever we need to and because we live near safe cycle infrastructure. The bonus is that my 6-year-old is now a fit, experienced cyclist, and my 4-year-old can do a 3-mile round trip. The baby is happy in the cargo bike and I’m fitter. And as a family, we are saving a lot of money each month.


One Response

  1. […] year ago, I set up a car-sharing scheme in my neighbourhood in East Oxford. Neighbours make their cars available to other verified local […]

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