THE news is not good. Stella the Micra, who has been my great friend for the past 14 years, is in the garage for her MOT.

A little miracle of a car, she usually only needs new windscreen wipers to pass or maybe some brake pads.

This year the mechanic has a list of problems... and it's long. It's £1200 worth of list. For context, Stella is only worth about £400.

Fortunately, I'm being given this news over the phone and not in person because I am sobbing so hard I can hardly speak.

Ridiculous, right? It's only a car. I just thought, despite her advancing years, we would have had more time together.

For all my banging on about the joy of cycling, my dirty secret is that I love driving. Love it. I'm not that bothered about cars but I love the act of driving.

I've driven Route 66 in the USA; I've driven the Hume Highway from Sydney to Melbourne; I've driven around Europe.

It's the freedom and control that I love, but the environmental impact makes me feel guilty about this pleasure.

With Glasgow City Council looking to turn the city centre into a low emission zone, and the increasing talk of carbon footprints in the run up to COP26, I've been thinking for a while about whether Stella should be my final car.

I've looked at electric vehicles but I'm not sure I can justify the cost. For most of the week Stella sits in the car park; there are some weeks where I'll maybe only drive once or even not at all.

So should I own a car? When does a necessity become a luxury and what are the other options?

Well, another fortunate occurrence is that the day Stella fails her MOT is also the day I start a trial membership of Enterprise Car Club.

When I began to think about replacing or scrapping my car, it was in pre-coronavirus times. This is another issue - since the lockdown in March my car use has gone through the roof due to the advice not to travel on public transport.

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Now Glasgow is under enhanced Covid-19 measures, the Scottish Government has once again advised people not to travel on public transport and who knows how many times we're going to ease out of lockdown only to revert back?

Suddenly having access to a car seems vital again. My mum is in her 70s and doesn't drive so I shop for her every week. I also want to be able to get to her quickly in case of emergency.

In the car, it's 25 minutes to my mum's house but by public transport it can be as much as 90 minutes - and that's if the trains are running. There's no bus route.

So could car club membership - and Glasgow is also served by Co-wheels - be the answer?

Research shows that for each car club vehicle, 10.5 private cars are displaced and 12 private car purchases are deferred, cutting carbon emissions.

There's a real drive towards electric and hybrid cars too, with more than 30% of the Enterprise fleet either plug-in EV or hybrid.

Helping the environment is, according to Enterprise Car Club managing director Daniel Gursel, one of the main motivations of car club members.

"Our very raison d'être, of course, is providing access to a vehicle for those who otherwise don't have one," Daniel says.

"What we see is a real breadth across our membership basis from 19-year-olds upwards - we have no upper age limit."

For young people the cost of insurance can be prohibitive so joining a car club is a good alternative option.

Daniel says some people share a car within a household but use the car club when a second vehicle is required; others might live in the city and only need to drive on occasion; still others might be aware of their carbon footprint and see car club ownership as a way to reduce their environmental impact.

Enterprise has 450 offices around the UK but the company realised some people want to rent a car when the office is closed and so set up the car club.

He added: "The beauty of the car club is that you have complete control - everything can be done on the app.

"A lot of our members are very conscientious about their environmental footprint and that's something we are very aware of.

"Membership encourages active travel among members also so actually our members report higher frequencies of walking and cycling than non-members.

"Our members are the lifeblood of our service and they really feel they are part of doing the right thing for the environment."

I was excited to get started so fired straight in with a booking of a car on Titwood Road, in the South Side, about 15 minutes walk from my flat and barely any distance on the bike.

Pro tip: before heading to pick up your first car club car... read the instructions. One of the really useful things about the experience was that, on booking, you are sent an extremely detailed list of instructions for accessing and using your car.

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I hadn't bothered to look at this so spent ages tapping my debit card on the windscreen (you can access the vehicle with the app or with a linked card) as though I were making a contactless payment.

Once the penny dropped and I made it inside, I then wasted several more pointless minutes trying to start the car.

Honestly, read the instructions.

My first jaunt was in a Ford Fiesta and oh, that new car smell. During the Covid-19 crisis Enterprise is taking extra cleaning steps to keep members safe. During lockdown, to support key workers, it gave free membership and 50% off driving charges.

It was lovely to have a shot in a modern car - Stella might be reliable but she's basic.

My first trip hit a hurdle I was worried about - I needed the car for far longer than the time slot I had booked it for.

This turned out to be no hassle at all. Using my instruction email - finally - I called customer services and they very quickly and easily extended my booking.

For my next booking I was in a different part of the city but this was no issue as there are car club vehicles across Glasgow.

It also gave me the chance to drive a hybrid car for the first time, a Toyota Yaris. Following the instructions on my email, the pick up was swift and hassle free.

Once again though, I ended up running late as the day didn't go as planned. There is a penalty for bringing the car back late and, because I didn't phone in advance, this was added to the bill.

I also tried a Vauxhall Mokka, this one parked in the West End. Having not followed the instructions the first time, this time I just couldn't follow the instructions (entirely my fault) and spent a full half hour trotting up and down Wilton Street trying to find the vehicle... which turned out to be exactly where it was supposed to.

Being half an hour late to leave made me late back for the third time in a row.

Overall, my takeaway was that the car club is for organised people who know what they're doing and when they're doing it.

A few times I tried to book and there were no vehicles available, but this is more to do with the enhanced cleaning regime meaning cars are off the road for longer than usual.

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For short journeys, last minute trips or days where you don't know quite how your schedule will turn out, car club isn't ideal.

But if you can plan in advance and stick to a timeframe then it would be an excellent alternative to car ownership.

The bill for my three journeys was £229.62 but a chunk of this was late fees and my own fault. If you add up repayments, repairs, MOTs, emissions tax, fuel and breakdown cover, the car club cost works out well.

Using the car club cars gave me time to work out what to do with Stella.

It turned out I wasn't quite ready to part with her so I found a mechanic to give me a second opinion and he carried out the necessary work for a third of the initial quote.

She doesn't have a lot of life left in her so there's still a question of what to do next - and car club membership might just be the answer.

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