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Electric-car pooling scheme in town for drivers over 23

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JERSEY’S first electric-car pooling scheme was due to launch today in a joint initiative between local firm EVie and the parish of St Helier, backed by Digital Jersey.

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Parking spaces for four vehicles – three BMW i3s and a Nissan van – have been allocated on the Parade and in Halkett Place, and any Islander over the age of 23 with a driving licence will be able to hire them using a smartphone app for £7.50 an hour.

It is hoped that the scheme will help move the Island to a more sustainable transport system while reducing congestion and pollution.

Similar ‘car clubs’, such as Zipcar, have been in place in cities in the USA, UK and elsewhere for a number of years.

The company’s founder, Gavin Breeze, said the scheme was targeted particularly at town residents and younger people as a cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative to buying a car.

‘In the parish of St Helier there are 200 resident car parking spaces and there is a waiting list for them,’ he said. ‘What we hope is that people will see that the cost of hiring a pool car for £7.50 an hour compares well to paying £1,500 to £2,000 per year for a parking space.

‘And there are all the other costs of owning a car on top of that to take into account, including insurance and maintenance. Also, millennials who can’t afford a car parking space or live in an expensive property should be interested.

‘The average car is sat idle for 95% of the time and their owners may have spent thousands of pounds to buy a piece of metal that will be losing value.’

He added that there had been interest from private landowners and property developers in installing further parking spaces for the car-pooling scheme on their land. ‘At the moment developers are required to build a new parking space with each new unit,’ he said.

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‘Ostensibly that means that if we build another 7,000 homes in Jersey over the next decade, as targeted, there could be an extra 7,000 cars on the road.

‘Our view, which is shared by property developers, is that planning requirements should be changed to allow car-pooling clubs instead.’

Mr Breeze said that research in the UK indicated that every pool car effectively replaced 18 privately owned cars.

St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft said that the initiative tied in with moves in the Island to reduce carbon emissions.

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‘We are very pleased to have worked with EVie in this launch of an all-electric car sharing club for the Island,’ he said. ‘An electric-car club is entirely consistent with the parish and government plans to address the climate change emergency and reduce our carbon emissions.’

Digital Jersey chief executive Tony Moretta said the scheme was an ‘excellent example’ of how technology could reduce the number of carbon-emitting cars on the road.

‘Technology has enabled this scheme to be a reality, with an easy-to-use phone app allowing users to book the car and then receive a downloadable digital key to unlock and start the vehicles,’ he said.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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