Best car hire apps to escape the city during October half-term

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There’s plenty to see and do within a few hours drive from London and October half-term is the perfect time for the whole family to escape the city. Taking kids on trains and buses is stressful at the best of times and the various ongoing strikes mean that finding more reliable transport might be the best way forward.

Luckily, various apps make it simple to rent a car for as little or long as you want, allowing you and your family to enjoy your time outside of London.

Ranging from monthly subscription models to electric cars that are kind to the environment, here’s a look at some of the best car hire apps available in London.

The car club one: Zipcar

Zipcars are available to hire all over London

/ Zipcar

Zipcar operates a car club model. You sign up on the website, and can pay small membership fee for cheaper hires – but you don’t have to. Then you’re free to pick up a car in your local area and drop it off when you don’t need it anymore. Since lockdown eased, the company has seen a 50 per cent increase in its Roundtrip product at weekends, as people escape the city for breaks.

Cleaning and safety is key for the car hire company. Zipcar has installed enhanced cleaning protocols and teams carry out spot checks on every vehicle it has on the roads at regular intervals throughout the week. It also encourages members to bring disinfectant wipes and use anti-bacterial hand gel before and after every trip.

Zipcar vehicles are available to hire from £3/hour

The contactless one: Virtuo

Virtuo leases Mercedes A-Class and GLA cars in London / Virtuo

Virtuo has become a popular choice for weekend escapes from London thanks to its contactless and seamless process.

Simply reserve a car in the app and pick it up at a transport hub, using your smartphone to unlock and lock the car as well as turn it on.

The app will soon be adding a service where it will drop cars off at your door and has also expanded its cleaning process, using government-recommended products to clean vehicles in between rentals. “For us, the contactless nature of our rental and the fact that we have always cleaned our cars after every rental put us in a strong position. We have always offered free cancellations and modifications as well to ensure that customers can travel with peace of mind,” says Virtuo’s Adam Bodini.

Virtuo cars are available to hire from £50/day

The electric one: E-Car Club

E-Car Club offers electric and hybrid vehicles

/ E-Car Club

If you don’t want to do away with the environmental benefits of not driving for months, then E-Car Club could be the platform for you. The service offers fully electric and hybrid vehicles so you can keep your carbon footprint low during the trip.

Everything is done through the app, including unlocking the car, so it’s a contactless process and the app will tell you where to find the nearest charging point so you never run out of juice.

Want an alternative electric car service? UFODrive is a new app for Londoners that allows them to hire a Tesla Model 3 or Model S from £89 a day.

E-Car Club vehicles are available from £35/day

The P2P one: Hiyacar and Getaround

You can share your car with your neighbours using Hiyacar and Getaround

/ Hiyacar

If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper way to get around this summer, you could check whether your neighbour or someone local is offering their spare car for hire. Platforms like Hiyacar and Getaround allow people to rent their cars out as a way to make some extra income on the side and demonstrate there isn’t a need for everyone to own their own vehicle.

During lockdown, Getaround saw demand drop roughly 80 per cent while Hiyacar covered the costs for NHS staff to borrow rental cars on the platform for free if they needed them to get to work or to buy groceries. Now, both platforms are seeing demand increase.

Both platforms have stringent measures for cleaning vehicles in between uses. Owners can flag if a car has been potentially contaminated and Getaround will quarantine it for three days so that no one else can hire it.

As a result, Getaround says people are hiring cars well about pre-lockdown levels, with weekends particularly strong, while Hiyacar says sharing has increased by almost 100 per cent compared with 2020.

Getaround vehicles are available to hire from £21/day depending on the car. Hiyacar vehicles are available to hire from £28/day depending on the car.

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