A pioneering UK all-electric car-sharing enterprise has been sold to Europcar Group, creating the world’s first successful exit by crowdfunding investors.
The 63 Crowdcube investors enjoyed a multiple return on their £100,000 total investment in E-Car Club.
E-Car Club, started by social entrepreneurs Chris Morris and Andrew Wordsworth in 2011, operates pay-per-use electric car clubs through partners such as universities, local authorities and housing associations.
They offer a sustainable alternative to traditional car ownership across 19 locations in the UK, including London, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire and Fife. The E-Car fleet includes the Nissan LEAF and Renault ZOE.
Innovate UK supported the start-up in its earliest days when it was being promoted by Sustainable Ventures Development Partners (SVDP). A £24,000 Smart grant helped fund a £41,000 proof-of-market study in early 2012.
SVDP works with investors, entrepreneurial managers and corporate partners to originate, build and grow businesses in the low carbon and sustainability sectors.
E-Car’s business model and social purpose appealed to investors when it became one of the first companies to seek equity capital via Crowdcube. The largest investment was £15,000 with the average being £1,500.
The co-founders will continue to lead the business within Europcar and E-Car Club managing director Chris Morris said:
We are absolutely delighted to welcome Europcar as our new majority shareholder and strategic partner. Since discussions began we’ve been incredibly impressed by their approach to innovation and commitment to alternative mobility solutions.
This is an incredibly fast moving sector and working with an organisation of Europcar’s calibre will enable E-Car Club to continue on its path to further growth.