Singapore is bustling with life and work. It also has notorious traffic and infamous waiting times for public transport. With such conditions it is no wonder why people resort to owning cars for travel.
However, with Certificates of Entitlement (COE) prices being so sky high, many Singaporeans cannot afford to own one. Identifying the disgruntled consumer base in this industry, a number of startups have initiated the idea of car sharing to tackle this problem.
Let us understand what car sharing is and take a look at some of those that have stepped up to help commuters!
Introduction to Car Sharing
Singapore is a tiny first world country with many people earning an average of $9000 as of 2019. However, land scarcity and rising population make Singapore one of the most densely populated countries per square foot worldwide.
Logically, this means normal car prices are affordable for most Singaporeans. This will no doubt flood the roads with too many vehicles. As a result, COEs were introduced. They are exorbitant in price and primarily serve to deter and limit the demand for cars in Singapore and reducing congestion on the roads.
However, this gives rise to a new problem. The inability to easily own a car has created a disgruntled consumer base who badly need immediate transportation without other worries like fuel, maintanence and vehicle depreciation. A solution that could complement the fast pace of life in Singapore was badly needed.
Thus, car sharing was born. This was a smart idea to only offer customers cars to drive only when they need to, reducing consumption and helping the environment. This also provide bang for the buck as consumers will maximise the use of the car – statistics show that private cars are only driven 10% of the time in a day. Lastly, depreciation is no longer an issue as customers do not actually own the car. They can choose to rent or lease the car if they need it for a longer period, like a month.
So, let us take a look at a few car sharing companies who have risen to tackle this problem!
Some car sharing startups in Singapore
Drive.SG is a car sharing search platform startup in Singapore that has grown to be the biggest car sharing online service for people here. It is not a car rental agency by itself but rather the Drive.SG website helps to compare prices between over 50 car rental companies in Singapore.
Drive.SG has been lauded across multiple news outlets and by it’s customers for it’s user-friendly and intuitive interface for car or motorbike selection and rental. They allow customers to see for car rentals for short periods, car leasing for longer times and also for chauffeur services.
They also specialise in finding great deals and promos for rentals, leasings and chauffeur services. Drive.SG scours for promos offered by the car rental partners and notifies customers as soon as the promos are up.
This way, more people are alerted to these bargain prices and will act on it, while these car rental agencies will also benefit from the increase in potential customers.
To summarise, Drive.SG enables people to browse through the collection of cars that have been searched for and compiled by the Drive.SG staff. People worried about available dates, rental bills and not getting instant quotes can rest assured. The hassle of calling up company by company is also greatly reduced thanks to the shrewd startup that is Drive.SG.
Launched in 2017, BlueSG is well known throughout Singapore for it’s environmentally-friendly Electric Vehicles (EVs) that run on only electricity. This negates concerns over the cost of petrol and excess mileage.
To rent a BlueSG vehicle for use, customers do have to be 20 years old and above. They can return their rented EVs at any of the 300 designated locations under BlueSG, usually bookable via their app.
Their vehicles are equipped with technology that is patented by Blue Solutions, that along with BlueSG, are subsidiaries of the Bolloré Group. Prices are the same on weekdays, weekend, peak and off-peak hours, making BlueSG an attractive proposition.
BlueSG offers a free one month membership trial for new customers, along with a basic $8 / month membership and $18 / month membership. The great thing about BlueSG is that it has a per minute rental fee, so users can drive for as long as they want to until they plug the car back in. There is also on-board GPS and 24/7 assistance in every car.
BlueSG are planning to introduce up to 500 stations fitted with 2000 charging points. They have also improved their price plans and benefits so as to attract more customers in the long run to go environmentally friendly and use a flexible car sharing system.
Tribecar is a famous car sharing company in Singapore that has unique, notable features. It is popular with those who need an affordable option for short distances, among other things. Let us take a look at some of these appealing attributes.
What separates Tribecar from others, is that Tribecar is equipped with private hire insurance and fitted in accordance to LTA guidelines, thus allowing customers to use the cars for commercial purposes, like food or item delivery, transportation services and so on.
Tribecar has no subscription fees or lock-in commitment periods. Also, users save alot of hassle due to the fact that Tribecar always has its vehicles nearby the MRT stations in Singapore.
When using Tribecar vehicles, users will have to pay for fuel, and can only return their vehicles back as long as there is enough fuel left.
As for prices, Tribecar has three categories vehicle types, namely Economy, Standard and Premium. The time periods are also important; Super off-peak, Off-peak and peak hours. Hence, prices can range from $0.54 / hour for an economy motorcycle during the super off-peak hours, all the way to $13.91 / hour for a peak hour premium MPV.
Such a pricing system, along with their daily and weekly rates makes Tribecar a flexible and dynamic option for people who need vehicles for a one-off quick move.
How Tribecar bettered Smove
Tribecar used to have a big competitor that went by the name of Smove. It started in Singapore back in 2011, but in 2020 was liquidated mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though this shocked many, it is not entirely unexplainable. So, let us take a look at the downfall of Smove and how Tribecar bettered them.
Smove operated similarly to BlueSG, using Electric Vehicles (EVs). Also, consumers could book cars minimally 3 hours ahead. Users could also use Smove cars for one-way trips, meaning that they need not return the vehicles from the collection point, instead just parking in nearby available Smove parking locations.
However, Smove went against their business model multiple times. They have a very limited number of parking locations, below BlueSG and Tribecar among other car sharing services. Thus, users travelling from point A to B may not have a parking location nearby, defeating the one-way drop-off model.
The Super Short Rental Plan was also detrimental. Though its rates were in 15-minute frames, users could not return at any Smove parking location. Sometimes they could only return at their original pickup point, going entirely against the one-way based services.
To ensure pre-booked vehicles were available in said location, extra costs were also used up to bring those vehicles to the parking location. This unnecessary hassle also took a toll on the finances of Smove.
These failed ventures, coupled with price ranges that, in a way, may seem unfavourable compared to their competitors meant that Smove was already downhill, and the Covid-19 pandemic pushed them over the edge into liquidation.
Seizing this opportunity, Tribecar revised rental rates and rectified mistakes that Smove made, namely the lack of authorised parking and pickup locations and doing away with pre-bookings of vehicles which could take a big toll on the allocation of their fleet.
Focusing on customers more and staying true to their business model, Tribecar eventually flourished and remains one of the most popular car sharing options in Singapore.
Future of car sharing in Singapore
Owning a vehicle, which are depreciating assets (more like liabilities), is very expensive in Singapore. Car sharing will always be the affordable and more useful option as consumers will maximise it’s usage.
With many giants and aspiring startups in the car sharing field, this sector promises to grow and improve. This ultimately benefits the people of Singapore and progress towards improving travelling convenience.