A NUMBER of alternative providers are believed to be interested in replacing an Exeter bike and car hire firm, which recently collapsed.

Co Cars and Co Bikes stopped trading after getting into financial difficulties when demand for its services dropped.

It offered around 200 electric bikes and 50 electric or low-emission cars, mainly around Exeter, to people who rented them by the hour.

Last week, the chief executive of Exeter City Council ruled out using taxpayers’ money to rescue the firm, saying: “We don’t have the financial ability to be able to support them. 

“We have our own challenges.”

However, a similar service could now be in the pipeline. 

Asked whether it might help to rescue Co Cars, a Devon County Council spokesperson said: “We have already been approached by several bike hire and car clubs interested in providing a replacement service and we will look to engage with them soon.”

They added: “Car clubs and bike hire schemes remain an important part of the integrated transport links for people living, working or socialising in the city and contributing towards tackling climate change.”

In a statement at the time explaining why Co Cars and Co Bikes collapsed, managing director Nic Eversett said: “We were severely affected by the suspension of our services for long periods of time during covid.

“Post-covid, changes in travel habits, exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis and drop in demand for business travel, have significantly impacted utilisation and revenue.”

He added: “These factors have been aggravated by high fuel prices and energy costs, contributing to greatly increased internal costs”  and also blamed vandalism and supply chain issues.

Mr Eversett said it was “looking for potential new providers who could keep the cars and, or the bikes operating into the future as we passionately believe these services are an essential part of a low carbon, integrated public transport network.”