Car sharing clubs are a sort of communal pool of vehicles that members can use when needed, but otherwise leave parked in a series of small public fleet locations.

The arrangement can be both economically and environmentally beneficial, especially in larger cities. Until now, the idea hasn't received a lot of attention from the mainstream automobile industry, but rental-car giant Hertz will be joining the fray in the UK, Europe and the U.S. over the next several months, according to the latest reports.

The rental car company, famous for its high-performance offerings, including several special-edition vehicles such as the Shelby GT-H Mustang (pictured) and the Corvette ZHZ, will be launching the car-sharing service in a handful of U.S. and European cities through the end of this year, expanding the network in 2009 and afterward, reports BusinessCar. The self-service fleets are being pitched with heavy emphasis on the environmentally-friendly aspects of car-sharing, though quantification of the benefits is not yet forthcoming.

Exact locations of the upcoming program are likewise unannounced. The decision to offer a car-sharing program is the first among the major car rental firms, though rival Avis previously ran a similar concept it called Urbigo, canceled two years ago for lack of interest.

The most common model for such clubs is use-based payment, with hourly rates for each trip. For urban residents, who tend to use their cars less than suburban dwellers, the costs can be substantially less than owning a parking space, paying upkeep and registration and all the miscellaneous costs of car ownership.