You’ve heard of ride-sharing mobile app platforms like Uber and Grab, but there’s a startup in Malaysia that hopes to bring in the car-sharing industry to new heights here.
GoCar is a on-demand car-sharing platform where you can register, book, unlock and access a car through their app as an alternative to traditional car rental services.
The startup was acquired by Mayflower Car Rental Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Warisan Tan Chong Holdings Berhad in February 2016.
Back in 2015, their founder TJ Tan realised that Malaysians don’t need to own cars—they just need access to them.
Having lived in Sydney for nearly 10 years, he came back with a mission to improve the local transportation landscape by introducing the concept of car-sharing.
Car bookings can be made anytime, as long as users have the app. After a one-time membership fee of RM50, users can then find, book and unlock GoCars via the app. Rates are applied hourly or daily, starting from RM14.90 per hour, and RM99 per day.
Currently with 7,000 users on board, the team take this as a promising sign of Malaysians’ willingness to be part of a car-sharing economy.
“A good number of our customers use our cars for both short-distance and interstate travelling, and all our cars are fully booked over long weekends, festive seasons and public holidays,” said Alan Cheah, CEO of GoCar.
Based on surveys, they found that the cars are mostly used for day trips, moving homes, furniture shopping, weekend getaways, and family vacations.
With emergence of ride and car-sharing platforms and developments to further improve our public transportation, the need to buy a car may soon be reduced significantly.
“Owning a car will no longer be a priority, but an option.”
“People are more aware of urban mobility and thus makes them more receptive to other modes of transportation in the ecosystem if they do not own a vehicle of their own.”
And GoCar plans to use this awareness to their advantage.
Recently they’ve collaborated with several commercial businesses and startups in an effort to create value for the community in those industries by increasing online traffic through joint cross-marketing campaigns.
Some of their partners include another car sharing platform, a bike sharing company, property developers, petrol stations, startups, and commercial businesses.
“GoCar is looking to play a major role in the urban mobility ecosystem by working together with other players to bring alternative transportation to urban communities.”
They’re eyeing urban cities out of Klang Valley in the future, including Georgetown, Ipoh, Melaka and Johor Bahru.
Before they can make it big, they still have to educate the public on the sharing economy.
“Understanding that what makes an initiative like car-sharing work is the collective effort of the community to treat the car like its their own. This will help a car-sharing platform to keep their rates competitive and thus lowers the barriers of entry for users to move into urban mobility.”
Surprisingly, they do not see any competition in Malaysia as everyone in the urban mobility ecosystem is working together to change the policy and create awareness on alternative transportation.
“Some might mention traditional car rental services as our competitors but that is only a small aspect to car-sharing.”
“Car-sharing provides convenience, accessibility, is cost-effective and encompasses a larger role in the ecosystem. It’s not just renting a car—we are actively changing the lifestyle of travelling together with other players,” said Alan.
According to the team, they have seen a 30% month on month growth of utilisation since February 2016.
Currently with 90 GoCars at over 45 locations, they have clocked in 19,520 hours with the top 10 GoCar members and a total of 1,767,060 kilometres on the road.
“This is just the beginning. We have validated the market and now we are on a mission to place GoCar at every location requested by our users.”
As public transportation gets better, and as car and fuel prices continue to soar, ride-sharing and car-sharing platforms might see themselves getting even more of a market share from Malaysians who are less willing to take up the expense and hassle of car-owning. And it’s clear that GoCar is betting on that.