A PIONEERING electric car sharing scheme in Solihull has been scrapped after the vehicles suffered ‘exceptional damage’ due to vandalism, it has emerged.
The highly anticipated E-Car Club pilot was launched last December and 18 Renault ZOE hatchbacks became available for rent in the borough.
The three-year InclusivEV project was intended to provide sustainable electric cars to low-income communities in the north of the borough.
But it has since emerged that E-Car Club abandoned the scheme in February due to vehicles being targeted in incidents of vandalism.
It is unclear as to why the scheme being scrapped did not spark any media coverage or prompt questions from councillors.
The car hire company claims the area was too ‘high risk’ to continue operation but would not provide any further information on the vandalism it says occurred.
It would not tell us where the fleet was based but said cars would have been found at charging points across north Solihull.
Questions remain unanswered about the number of people who signed up to the scheme, with the company saying the information is ‘commercially sensitive’.
A spokesperson said: “Due to the exceptional levels of damage to the vehicles caused by vandalism, E-Car was forced to remove the vehicles and suspend operation of the Solihull scheme in February.
“Following discussions with EIT Climate-KIC (who were part funding the project), the local police and after internally assessing the risks and costs of damage for the scheme with the Europcar security and risk teams, it has been deemed too high risk to re-introduce vehicles into North Solihull.
“Therefore, the company regretfully closed the scheme with immediate effect. The company is incredibly disappointed to have to take this difficult decision, as it felt the scheme had significant potential for the local area.
“It is unfortunate that the criminal actions of a minority have prevented the residents of North Solihull from benefitting from a new cost-effective transport provision and has lost the area significant investment opportunities.
“E-Car Club still believe there is strong EV car sharing potential across the Midlands and will continue to look for opportunities to create successful schemes in the region.”
Vehicles could be hired for as little as £3.50 per hour and £25 per day.
The scheme was being operated by Cenex in partnership with E-Car Club (a subsidiary of Europcar) which secured €1.8million (£1.6million) of European Union funding to deliver the project.