Exeter-based eco-friendly vehicle sharing co-operative Co Cars has launched a £600k funding round to grow its shared mobility initiatives.
Co Cars is asking residents and businesses in and around Exeter to support the expansion of its fleet from just under 40 cars to over 55. It also wants to add at least 50 new electric bicycles through the funding drive, via the ethical investment platform Ethex.
Launched in 2005, Co Cars is one of south west England’s leading low-carbon, on-demand shared mobility scheme. It has more than 1,200 active members who have reported a 30% reduction in car use, a 15% reduction in travel costs and a 20% increase in walking and cycling.
In the last five years alone, Co Cars says it has removed over 150 private cars from the road, saving 149 tonnes of CO2per annum. A successful funding bid is expected to remove an additional 150 cars from the road and a further 230 tonnes of CO2 per annum.
Funds will be channelled into the purchase or leasing of electric cars and bikes, the establishment of city-centre mobility hubs (where multiple modes of transport are made available around existing infrastructure), product innovation (such as the development of a dedicated geolocation app) and the developing integrated ticketing with local bus operators to increase ease of use and connectivity.
Investors in the project will see a targeted 5% return on their investment per annum, with Co Cars re-investing any surplus funding generated above the £600k mark back into the business to help transform the communities it operates in and grow its sustainable development.
Mark Hodgson, founder of Co Cars, said: “By the year 2030, around 90% of the British population will live in an urban area, and currently, transport represents the largest financial burden on most British households.
“The extensive use of private vehicles is not only forcing individuals and households into transport poverty, it is also having a destructive effect on the planet, with vehicular emissions contributing the largest proportion of overall greenhouse gases.
“Although we are witnessing explosive growth in the ownership of electric vehicles, we at Co Cars believe more can be done. By offering a safe, user-friendly alternative to private vehicle use, we have successfully encouraged over 1,200 users to help create healthier, cleaner urban environments for everybody. With this latest round of funding, we will be able to offer shared mobility services to more people across Exeter and the south west.”
Lisa Ashford, chief executive of Ethex, said: “Consumers are increasingly concerned with the environmental impact of using private transport. By providing a local, sustainable shared mobility offering, Co Cars is developing something truly innovative to combat climate change and create healthier, more liveable community spaces. We are proud to be partnering with Co Cars to offer consumers a healthy, eco-friendly transport alternative and to offer investors an attractive opportunity for investment.”