Adrienne Campbell started the Baked Bean club in September 2006 with four friends in Lewes, East Sussex, as an informal car club. The club started because they all needed a car at the same time. The car is a little Daewoo Matiz (called the Baked Bean, for obvious reasons) that was owned by one of the group.
The club was funded in three ways:
- An initial non-refundable deposit
- A kitty to pay for petrol
- Hourly rate covering all running costs including replacing the car after three years.
An initial non-refundable deposit of £75 was a disincentive to having a mass of people on the books. If they’d had to buy a car, then they would also have had to pay their share of the purchase price, but the car was initially donated by the owner, who was one of the group. After 18 months they’d accumulated enough money to pay her what it was worth when the car club started (£600). Alternatively they could have paid the owner a monthly amount for the duration of the lifetime of the car, paying over say 2 years. The risk of the car dying prematurely is then shared.
Petrol is paid for using a kitty. They put 15p a mile into the kitty every time they use the car, setting the milometer to zero before each journey. Any person filling up pays using the kitty money. This works well.
They pay a monthly amount based on the hourly rate at the end of each month. This covers all costs, including tax, mot, insurance (any driver) and repairs, as well as an amount which accumulates to replace the car after three years. The hourly rate was calculated by adding up potential annual costs, including replacing the car over 3 or more years, estimating the annual hourly use and dividing one by the other. The current hourly rate is £1.50 per hour. Turnover in the first year was about £2,000.
Parking: The car has been parked in various places, initially on a drive but more recently on the road. The group persuaded the Lewes parking scheme to allow them to have a permit for all the zones in town, not just the one where the owner lives.
Booking: They use an online Google calendar, which is easy to set up and works well most of the time. Sometimes they phone each other it they need the car spontaneously and are not near a computer.
Bank account: They pay by cash at the moment but are opening a bank account to transfer funds more easily.
Repairs: Until recently the owner took care of repairs but the group has started to share out the different roles: ownership (insurance, MOT, parking); repair and cleaning; financial.
Cleaning: They all keep the car tidy and take it in turn to clean it at the end of each month, usually a £5 visit to the car wash.
Adrienne’s tips: “This system works on trust and willingness to stick with the system, ie not deliver it late or make a mess. Maybe start at even higher than £1.50 an hour and share out any surplus at the end of the year. Try to involve someone who wants to share their car rather than buying new to avoid a large initial capital cost.
Adrienne’s benefits: Huge! I’ve been able to give up all the hassles of car ownership. I save lots of money: my costs have at least halved. I walk more (to collect the car, not using it for small trips because it’s easy); I buy less and plan better. I love being part of the car club community and get to feel virtuous. Community car clubs are also about to get more support from Carplus.