Since the official launch earlier this year, Co-wheels has put time into engaging with initiatives and opportunities in the community, especially with local business networks.
The effort is now paying off as member numbers have rocketed, and the club is already looking to expand the fleet in the New Year.
Engaging with local businesses
Co-wheels is an active participant in the Business Travel Network, which is a ‘club’ for businesses of all sizes in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch who want to help staff ditch their private cars at work. Joining the Network is free and businesses involved receive help, advice and discounts to make their transport greener, cheaper and more convenient. Co-wheels is a big incentive for businesses in the Network – along with options like cycling, public transport and car sharing.
Alex, the development coordinator for Co-wheels in Bournemouth, has put a big emphasis on engaging with local businesses, “This is really important because without direct involvement, people often don’t know who we are or why there are suddenly cars parked outside their shops. It’s my job to make them aware that our cars are there for them and that Co-wheels can be a huge benefit for business”.
This is why Alex spoke at the recent Southbourne Forum public meeting, getting local businesses, councillors and residents on-board and enthusiastic to get another car in their neighbourhood. This is also why Co-wheels is now a proud member of the Westbourne Traders’ Association as well: “It’s part of engaging with and supporting the communities we work in. The Bournemouth Chamber of Trade & Commerce is now also promoting Co-wheels to its members, which emphasises their enthusiasm to push green transport as well,” Alex adds.
Visitors and tourists
Bournemouth remains on the front line of Co-wheels’ exciting new Visitor Car Hire concept, whereby the company works alongside hotels to offer instant Co-wheels membership, meaning tourists are able to travel to the area by train or coach but still have the freedom to explore the area. Lots of hotels are keen to help their customers choose greener travel options – not least because their parking space is often very limited.
The ability to offer tourists instant sign up arose after Co-wheels changed its payments system and its insurance policy – and this also allowed the company to actively target students for the first time.
Bournemouth University students are making great use of Co-wheels already and it is the car club’s hope that some students will be persuaded not to bring their own cars to the crowded Bournemouth streets. Other students may be persuaded not to buy a car in the town and rely on bikes, walking, public transport and Co-wheels instead.
Bournemouth 2026 Trust is opening its brand new green housing and eco business hub in Boscombe and Co-wheels is honoured to have been invited to put a new community car in. It is hoped the new residents and businesses will make good use of the new vehicle, but it will also be open to everyone. By the end of January, Co-wheels hopes to have ten cars in Bournemouth, with a further two by the spring. Today there are already eight cars for Co-wheels members to use right across Bournemouth borough.