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More people are shifting to rental cars in Japan, but not to travel

Service providers in Japan were flummoxed when they found that many customers returned their vehicles with no mileage logged at all

BS Web Team 

Representative Image | Photo: Sugandha Mukherjee
Representative Image | Photo: Sugandha Mukherjee

In Japan, the number of people who choose not to own cars, is on the rise as more people shift to the 'sharing' economy. Car sharing is somewhat similar to renting a car, but it is more cost efficient than ordinary car rental. Car sharing is one of the businesses that has lately been growing at a rapid pace in

What some Japanese service operators couldn't figure out however was what their clients were doing with these cars. Data collected by the operators showed a large number of hires in which the mileage was found to be zero. Customers were hiring their cars but not driving them around.

Car-sharing service operator Orix Auto Corp. which has 230,000 registered users, realised in the past year that some people who rented vehicles never actually drove them. The company examined its mileage records and found several percent of its rented vehicles "traveled no distance".

The company said they have no clear idea how they actually used their cars and data show a number of people rent vehicles without driving them, the Asahi Shimbun news reported.

Times24 Co., another car-sharing service with 1.2 million registered users, said it found few surprising purposes. While one said they rented the car to sleep because the hotels were full, another reason was to recharge cellphones and laptop.

“Usually the only place I can take a nap while visiting my clients is a cybercafe in front of the station, but renting a car to sleep in is just a few hundred yen (several dollars), almost the same as staying in the cybercafe,” Asahi Shimbun newspaper quoted a user.

The services are easy to access and a customer can reserve a car any time of the day (or night) for immediate use. In average, the services cost around 400 yen (Rs 250) for 30-minute which can be picked up from firm's parking places.

In 2018, the survey of 400 customers found that one out of every eight users rented cars for purposes other than driving.

Though the service providers gained money with rising shift to sharing cars, they are now losing out more when customers rent for non-driving purposes since customers pay more if they log extra mileage.

First Published: Wed, July 10 2019. 15:13 IST