By Maria Almenoar, The Straits Times, 16 Oct 2011
CAR-RENTING is taking a new environmentally- friendly route in January. That is when a business that provides electric cars – and also electric scooters and electric bicycles – for hire will be launched in Buona Vista.
Clean Mobility Singapore, an environmental start-up company, will be rolling out charging stations in a trial at graduate business school Insead before it considers expanding the network.
The pilot trial will have one electric car, three scooters and 20 bicycles for the staff and students to rent on a per-minute basis using ez-link cards.
Insead’s director of operations and campus service, Mr James Middleditch, said the scheme is likely to be very popular.
‘Many of our students are here for a short period of time so buying a car does not make sense to them. It will also be useful for those who take public transport but need to run errands during their breaks,’ he added.
Clean Mobility is part of the Energy Market Authority and Land Transport Authority’s three-year, electric-vehicle trial costing $20 million.
Clean’s director Tom Lokenvitz said there was a lot of scope for car-sharing and the use of electric vehicles.
‘Consumers are becoming more conscious about the environment and less so about cars as a status symbol. Electric vehicles are still relatively expensive so our set-up allows people to use these vehicles without owning them,’ he added.
As a shortage of Certificates of Entitlement – which vehicle buyers must secure – has led to high premiums, the three car sharing companies here said they too have seen higher demand for their services over the last year.
Honda’s Kah Share, Whizz Car and Car Club have reported an increase of between 15 per cent and 35 per cent each in membership numbers.
Mr K. K. Ho, general manager of Whizz Car, said: ‘The high COE prices have definitely made a positive impact on car-sharing. Having more locations also means the scheme becomes more convenient for users when it’s right at their doorstep.’
The three companies – which have about 300 cars in all – have expanded to at least 10 new locations in the last few months, including Tampines, Telok Blangah, Jurong and Punggol.
The companies said they choose locations based on feedback from residents or on how densely populated an area is. They also favour sites near MRT stations and bus interchanges.
Users sign up as members by paying a one-time fee and a yearly or monthly membership charge. Companies said most of their members are professionals with families.
One customer is Mr Joshua Chin, 38, a pilot who borrows a car from Car Club’s new location in Telok Blangah.
‘I spend about half a month overseas and my wife does not drive so it makes sense for me not to have to pay for the cost of a car and also for parking,’ he said.