U.K.-based rental car club Co-Wheels has partnered with Bournemouth University and changed its regulations to allow students under the age of 25 to rent cars with no deposit.
Co-Wheels, which claims to be the leading UK car club provider with electric cars, previously charged anywhere from £500-1000 for a deposit for students.
“This autumn is the first time that young students have been on equal footing with everyone else, so it’s a massive growth area here at the moment,” Alex Elliott, development coordinator at Co-Wheels, said. “We updated the rules for young people under 25 and the student market is quite new for us, it’s quite exciting.”
The big transformation comes as a result of a recent change in the way payments are handled by Co-Wheels. The car club has switched from using a direct debit system in which they billed people monthly to a new credit card system which charges instantly and eliminates the need for deposits. However, students need to have carried a driver licence for over a year to qualify to rent.
The cars available at Co-Wheels vary in price. Co-Wheels charge a joining fee of £25 per person.
“One of our bays is outside the Lansdowne campus and now we just recently put a Toyota Aygo in there for the new semester,” Elliott said.
The fleet of cars within the company are all electric, hybrid or low emissions.
While bicycles and busses continue to remain popular forms of transportation for environmentally conscious students, Co-wheels aims to complement those options with these vehicles.
“The way we look at it is that it’s not to be used instead of bicycles or busses,” Elliott said. “It’s part of the same mix. There are times when you need a car. For example, you’re doing a big shop or you need to go to Ikea or pick up family from the airport or just want to go on a sightseeing trip for the weekend—that’s when we come in.”
The car club has had success in other university cities as it continues to expand to now over 45 towns.
They established a location in Bournemouth earlier this summer when the Bournemouth City Council was searching for a car club and agreed to work with Co-Wheels.
Now that they have relaxed their car rental rules for students, Co-Wheels has reached out to the Bournemouth University’s Student’s Union earlier this week in order to help promote the car service. Leaflets with discount codes will be distributed. But Elliott ultimately hopes that word of mouth will get the product out.
“We usually find that when people start using the car, they tell their friends that it’s a good service, good value for their money and that sort of takes off from there.”