iCarsClub, Singapore’s pioneer peer-to-peer car sharing platform just announced that they have over 200 registered cars on their platform ready to be rented out, with another 440 cars waiting to be part of the iCarsClub fleet. This represents a significant growth from April, where they had more than 300 cars in total on their platform.
For the demand side of the equation, they now have a total of 1400 active renters, with another 2700 individual expressing interest in signing up as potential renters. In April, the team had over 3,000 total members (active & interested).
iCarsClub has a stringent process when approving its renters and iCarsClub cars. All members are required to fulfill certain legal criteria, and all of their cars have to be covered by insurance and have the iCarsBox installed. The iCarsBox provides keyless entry and GPS tracking, making it convenient for drivers to rent the car without even having to meet the owner to get the key; everything can be done via the smart phone.
Founded in October 2012, iCarsClub raised US$482,000 from Red Dot Ventures earlier this year, and was one of the winners for the Echelon 2013 Singapore satellite. iCarsClub takes a percentage cut from all successful rental transactions.
Will iCarsClub continue to grow beyond what they are doing right now? There are several key challenges that iCarsClub will definitely have to overcome. For one, the number of cars available for rent would have to grow faster as lower quantity of cars available for rental means that drivers would have less options to rent from. Inventory and customer acquisition cost for both sides are also high. For each car to be ready for rental, the cost of installing the iCarsBox and getting the insurance coverage means extra costs for iCarsClub. Will they achieve better cost control with the economies of scale?
What’s iCarBox you ask? The little piece of hardware installed in the car allows the renter to unlock the vehicle’s doors via his or her Smartphone. Co-founder Jamie Wang explained in our previous editorial coverage: “Thanks to this technology, owners and renters don’t need to meet. The iCarBox is installed in the vehicle and integrated with the locking system – this means that our central server is then directly connected to the system and can command it via SMS or GPRS. So, when a rental is confirmed, the user clicks on the app’s unlock button on his or her Smartphone, our central server sends the order to the iCarBox, and the door is automatically unlocked.”
For customers, the costs are equally high as well. Average per hour rentals on iCarsclub range from S$6 to S$20. Most Singaporeans are able to get around the island using public transportation or the various taxi companies which present a competitively priced alternative that users may be more familiar and used to.
What we are seeing now in Singapore is the number of new options for getting around. iCarsClub is competing directly against Drive.SG, an online platform for car rental companies. When we spoke to Drive.SG earlier this year, co-founder Adrian shared that there are about 135 car rental companies in Singapore, with the car rental market reaching about S$400 to S$600 million annually. Drive.SG are doing sales of over S$400,000 earlier this year too, and have plans to launch their mobile app.
Last year we saw a rise in taxi sharing app in Singapore: notably Split-It! and GoMyWay. The idea is simple, share and split your taxi bills with fellow riders. While there has been no news from GoMyWay on how they are doing so far, Split-It recently launched their premium private chauffeur service, competing heads on with recently launched Uber. Uber responded by updating its iPhone app and adding on the fare splitting option.
So here are your options if you want to enjoy a different get-around experience in Singapore, while avoiding public transportation usage. You can either rent a car from other car owners through iCarsClub, or rent a car from a car rental company through Drive.SG, or get chauffeured around with Uber and travel in style.
iCarsClub is definitely facing a lot of competition and challenges in Singapore. Despite that, iCarsClub is currently growing and has plans to expand out of Singapore to China.
More stories on the transport vertical in Singapore: