Car2go pulls out of Birmingham

But is carsharing a no-go in the UK?

Short-hop carsharing giant car2go has signalled its intention to withdraw from the UK, blaming “the UK’s strong culture and tradition of private vehicle ownership”.  If that’s the case, does it mean carsharing in the UK is doomed?

Sandra Green from car club Co-wheels Birmingham doesn’t think so.  “I think the failure of car2go was that they came in with a ready-made solution rather than listening to what people actually need.  Their small two-seater cars were promoted as a zippy way to make short journeys around the city – but it was already easy to do those trips by taxi, public transport, walking or cycling.  We took a different approach, focussing on the situations when a car is really useful, like when you need to transport your kids and shopping.

“Perhaps we do have more of a car culture than some other countries, but we’re finding that people are prepared to give up their cars when there’s a good option available – one that deals with those situations that buses and bicycles can’t.  Not having to worry about things like maintenance and insurance is a weight off our members’ minds, and they like the way it encourages them to consider greener modes of transport rather than automatically jumping in a car.”Birmingham Friends of the Earth agrees that car2go was never an effective way to tackle the city’s poor air quality and transport problems.  Their “Let’s Get Moving” campaign calls instead for greater investment in active travel.

Julien Pritchard, spokesperson for Birmingham Friends of the Earth, said: “With 25% of Birmingham car journeys under 2 miles, schemes which increase the number of short journeys made by car are never going to be the solution to our air pollution and transport problems.”

“To really tackle Birmingham’s poor air quality, the council needs to invest much more in active transport to make it easier for people to choose to walk and cycle, as well as ensuring sustainable transport alternatives are in place for journeys which aren’t possible on foot or by bike.”