Car Sharing, an Attractive Service for Work or Private Transport
Town & Local Area Info
Do you own a car? Having a car can be very convenient if you have to travel long distances to places not served by buses or trains. But for many car owners, especially in Tokyo and other big cities, parking fees and maintenance costs can be quite a hassle for something that they usually use only during weekends or holidays.
In recent years, many Japanese are foregoing ownership of cars, preferring instead to do “car sharing”. In this article, I will talk about the details and benefits of this new trend of car sharing.
What is Car Sharing?
Car sharing is a type of car rental service where users rent shared cars for short periods of time. It is different from traditional car rental in that registered members can use a car in increments of 10 to 15 minutes just by booking a schedule through the Internet (no need to go through an application procedure in a shop). It is also generally cheaper, as every time increment just costs around 130 yen. Furthermore, cars can be rented and returned anytime 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In other words, as long as a car is available, it can be a cost-effective mobility solution without any troublesome application procedures or usage limits.
The rising popularity of this service has led to an increase in the number of car sharing stations in major cities, and consequently, a decrease in people who decide to own cars. If you’re living in a big city, there’s probably a car sharing station somewhere near your home.
One of the main benefits of car sharing is that you don’t have to shoulder the costs of owning a car, namely the price of the car itself, gasoline costs, parking fees, insurance fees, “shaken” inspection fees, and automobile taxes. While you do have to pay for an initial registration fee and monthly membership fees, it is still a comparatively economical option.
How do I use Car Sharing?
Car sharing is very easy to use. First you have to register as a member to a car sharing service which you can do over the Internet. After you complete the registration procedure, an IC card will be delivered to your address. Once you become a member, you can use your smartphone or computer to book a car by selecting the car type, the date, and the time.
After completing the booking, go to the designated car sharing station on your scheduled time and hold your membership IC card over the sensor on the car you booked to unlock it. Some car sharing service providers also let you use an app on your smartphone to unlock the car.
Most car sharing stations are built next to paid parking lots, and with the increasing popularity of the service, it may become a common fixture in big cities in the future.
Comparison of the 3 Major Car Sharing Service Providers
●Times Car Share
With around 10,459 stations across the country, it is by far the most expansive car sharing service in Japan, and also has the highest membership. The chances of finding a station nearby when you need to rent a car is quite high. You can also save money on their Night Pack plans.
They have the best deals for rentals of 6 hours or less. On weekdays, a rental of 6 hours or less costs just 80 yen per hour (applied automatically when you return the car). They also have a large lineup of vehicles that include popular makes. However, the number of stations is still quite limited.
They have by far the best deals for longer period rentals, ideal when you want to rent a car for a trip over several days.
I hope this article helped you know more about car sharing in Japan. I think it’s a convenient and economical option for many people today. If you’re thinking about getting into car sharing, try to compare the different service providers, including the car sharing stations near your area, and I’m sure you’ll find one that is suitable for you.