Adur and Worthing Councils have become the first organisation in the UK to join an innovative car hire scheme.
The councils have teamed up with nationwide car sharing service HiyaCar, which enables staff to rent a colleague’s car for council business during the working day.
The authorities are pioneering the use of keyless technology in offering the service, which is described as ‘an Airbnb for cars’, a council spokesman said.
Councillor Diane Guest, Worthing Borough Council’s executive member for environment, said: “HiyaCar is a simple and cost efficient way to undertake business travel in a sustainable and community-spirited way.
“It’s a win-win for everyone involved and will enable the councils to be leaders by example for the wider community.”
The scheme works at the swipe of a smartphone – no exchange of keys is needed – earning money for the car owner as well as making use of a vehicle that may otherwise sit unused.
This stands to help the councils save money, because the service could ultimately reduce the need for, and costs of, pool cars, directing cash into the local economy instead, according to the spokesman.
There are also wider benefits in using sustainable transport, which promotes the social, environmental and economic advantages of a sharing economy, the spokesman said.
These are among the councils’ objectives over the next three years as part of their Platforms for our Places strategy.
Councillor Emma Evans, Adur District Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “I’m delighted the councils are leading the way with this innovative service and are helping to develop it by trialling keyless technology.
“The scheme is about connecting staff, building new relationships, using cars that would otherwise be sitting idle and enabling a different way to use funds.
“It may ultimately lead to fewer cars on the road as people share more, and therefore a reduction in carbon emissions.”
The service is free to sign up for, with HiyaCar receiving a small percentage of the rental cost.
Users simply choose the car they want to hire, book online and collect it from a pre-arranged place.
Drivers and cars are vetted by HiyaCar, which also provides separate insurance and breakdown cover for the rented vehicles.
The new keyless technology being piloted by the Councils works through a downloadable phone app which connects to a special device in the car that unlocks the car at the press of a button.
There is also a tracking system for extra security and peace of mind.
The HiyaCar service is already widely available to private individuals across the country.
If its take up at the councils grows, the cars of employees could, with their agreement, be offered to the wider community for hire.
Phil Makinson, HiyaCar’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “Adur and Worthing Councils are setting an example for other organisations around the country that could significantly benefit from changing their current way of providing cars for business use by supporting peer-to-peer car sharing.
“We have three cars set up with QuickStart technology at present and this is just the beginning of better car usage for the councils and local community.”