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News  2, Oct 2012

iCarsclub introduces peer-to-peer car rentals in Singapore

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icarsclub

Owning a car is extremely costly in Singapore for most households, and many car owners waste a lot of free car time by letting their cars sit in car parks for nothing. Tapping on this opportunity, Jamie Wang and Eddy Zhang cofounded iCarsclub, a peer-to-peer car renting platform in Singapore.

iCarsclub is an online marketplace for car owners to monetize their free car resource by renting their cars out. For car renters, iCarsclub managed to prototyped a hardware (iBox) that allows keyless entry. With iBox, car renters can unlock cars using their mobile phones to start driving. iCarsclub provides in-platform payment support and takes a 15 percent cut for each car rental transaction. iCarsclub also provides insurance coverage for all rental transactions.

iBox, keyless entry technology

Of course, what really piques our interest is the keyless entry technology, which cofounder Jamie and Eddy have been testing for over a month.

“Since September, we have been testing our keyless entry technology, vehicle monitoring, web portal with a few cars. Things went very well. Our keyless entry is very stable and reliable for users to lock/unlock a reserved car using their mobile phones. The system can also track the mileage during a period of time accurately for iCarsclub to manage the fuel. Renters pay fuel cost based on mileage used. Our technology also allows us to set speed alert, geo-fencing alert to better manage the driving risk. In emergency case such as anti-theft, our system can also immobilize the car. All these were tested and worked pretty well. We are also adding shock detection into the system in October. All these vehicle monitoring and management features will give us much more control on risk and in turn make our community members more safer and insurance partners more happy.”

Will it work in Singapore?

Cofounder Eddy seems to bet on it. Eddy shared with us that not only does it cost a lot to own a car in Singapore, a huge amount of existing car resources are being wasted and untapped.

“A conservative calculation is that people are wasting over S$4B worth of car time every single year in Singapore. (Cost of owing a car is S$1500/mth; on average a car has only less than six hours per day usage out of the 12 day time hours; there are more than 520,000 private cars in Singapore; so the totally wasted car resource is: $1500/12*6*12*520,000 = $4.68B) Therefore, we believe there is a huge potential for peer-to-peer car rental in Singapore and other cities alike across the whole Asia.”

The team also did a quick survey with 92 car owners which revealed interesting facts.

“Based on our survey on 92 car owners from seven car parks in Singapore, we are surprised to find out that 19 percent of the car owners are willing to rent out their cars to their neighbors, friends, or colleagues when they are not using theirs cars. The profile of the car owners who are willing to share their cars are mostly people owning a economic model car more than three years old, receiving a medium or low income. These people have a mentality that they want to enjoy the convenience of owning a car but they really think the ownership is costly. Besides these people, we do see customers with other profile who are also very willing to share their cars. One customer left a message on our facebook fan page to request to share her Lamborghini.”

Current status

iCarsclub is scheduled to be launched on the first day of November, with at least 20 cars and 100 car renters onboard. They have secured a partnership with second-hand car dealer, and is actively talking to insurance companies to secure an insurance policy to protect all rental transactions in iCarsclub. Other than that, the team is actively funding raising of between S$300,000 to S$600,000 to help them explore regional expansion options.

Eddy ended the email interview by saying that not only do they believe peer-to-peer car rentals will work in Singapore, it will also work in Asia. “We aim to build our product and service in Singapore and expand to China as soon as we can by end of this year. We have already started our business development in China at this moment.”

Jacky Yap

Jacky Yap

Having spent one year abroad in Shanghai under the NUS Overseas College Programme, Jacky has an avid interest in entrepreneurship and web based startups. Jacky used to run N-House, Singapore's first entrepreneurial themed residence in NUS, and was also part of the organizing team for Startup Weekend Singapore 2012. You can reach him at jacky [at] e27 [dot] co

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