Rent a car from $2 an hour and use it to earn money

Rent a car from $2 an hour and use it to earn money
PHOTO: The Straits Times

It's a car-rental, car-sharing and chauffeur service all rolled into one - and it is shaping up to be another rival to traditional taxi operations.

Two-month-old Tribecar, set up by a family which runs Malaysian conglomerate Insas, is offering short-term car rentals ranging from $2 to $6 an hour.

That is a fraction of what other car-sharing plans charge, and far less onerous than the $1,500 a month most traditional rental companies levy. It is even lower than any taxi flagdown fare.

Tribecar currently has a modest fleet of 23 cars (mainly Toyota Corolla Altis sedans which are five years or older), and has signed up 210 hirers who place a $100 refundable deposit with the operator.

Tribecar director Thong Mei Chuen said: "So far, no one has asked for their deposit back."

Ms Thong, 34, who runs the start-up with her brother Weng Sheng, 26, said: "We noticed an underserved group of hirers - those who want ultra short-term rentals.

"They range from mums dropping their kids off or doing grocery shopping to night-shift workers, who may pick up a couple of Uber jobs to offset the cost of rental."

An investment banker for 10 years before starting Tribecar, Ms Thong said business has been encouraging, with fleet occupancy hovering at 60 to 70 per cent.

Tribecar aims to grow its fleet to 500 cars by the end of this year, and is looking to tie up with other rental firms.

By the time it hits 200 cars, Ms Thong said hirers will no longer have to return the vehicle to its original pick-up point and can simply leave it near their destination. Another hirer in the vicinity will pick up the car.

Ms Thong said the fleet has to be of a certain size for this operating model to work. Right now, its 23 cars are parked in high-demand areas such as HDB towns.

Tribecar uses a system that allows hirers to access cars just with their smartphone. Once a hirer books a vehicle at a desired location and time slot, he can unlock it by keying in a PIN on their phone.

Payment is via an e-wallet account with the company.

Ms Thong said the majority of Tribecar hirers offer paid rides through one of the many third-party ride-booking apps here.

Tribecar claims all its vehicles have the proper documentation and insurance for such services.

Car-Sharing Association (Singapore) president Lai Meng said the new start-up was "inevitable", adding: "It is an under-served market and there's plenty of room for growth."

Tribecar is believed to be the first car-sharing outfit that allows its hirers to offer paid rides.

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