News
Car-Sharing Co-Op To Start At Two Estates
By The Straits Times | 10 FEBRUARY 1997


Singapore will have its first car-sharing cooperative in May, in a move aimed at letting more people drive a car without having to buy one.
NTUC INCOME will spend about $1.5 million to start the car-sharing cooperative along the lines of those found in Germany, Switzerland and Britain, and the first to have it may be the Housing Board estates of Toh Yi Drive, off Upper Bukit Timah Road and Serangoon North.
If the scheme proves popular within six months, it will be extended to other housing estates, INCOME chief executive officer Tan Kin Lian told The Straits Times. But if it does not show early signs of success, the company would be prepared to wait for up to 1 1/2 years before calling it quits, he added.
NTUC INCOME senior manager Yeow Hwee Ming said that the cooperative hoped to attract 75 to 100 members in each estate and they would share five mid-size cars (1300cc and 1600cc) in each place initially.
Members would pay a one-times entrance fee of about $200, $50 in monthly subscriptions and a rental fee of less than $10 an hour, and $90 for the whole day. Rates have not been finalised, but will be lower than those charged by car rental companies.
The cooperative's cars will be parked in each estate, and should be booked for use for only a few hours at a time. Members who want a car for longer than a day will be referred to car rental companies with which the coop will establish links. At the end of the year, it will give members rebates if it has surplus car rental income.
The idea of having a car-sharing cooperative here was broached half a year ago by Communications Minister Mah Bow Tan. He said then that communal cars were more efficient and affordable than private ones which were left parked the whole day while the owner was in the office.
The capital cost of the car would also be shared rather than borne by an individual owner. NTUC INCOME's chief executive, Mr Tan, decided to consider the idea seriously and sent Mr Yeow and two colleagues to Zurich, Munich, Berlin and London to study car cooperatives there.
Officials from property developer Pidemco Land and the Land Transport Authority also went on the trip. They found that cooperatives thrived when members were civic-minded and took good care of the cars, reducing the cost of operations.
In Zurich, members would wash the cars themselves and an accountant-member looked after the books free of charge. The cooperatives there had a car for every 10 to 20 members.
Mr Yeow said that the estate in Toh Yi Drive, which is about eight years old, looked promising because it had many young couples who do not own cars, and MRT does not go there. Many shops, and the Bukit Timah shopping centre are close by, and residents may want to drive to these places to shop.
Mr Yeow said that for the cooperative to work well and keep costs down, members will have to share a strong neighbourly spirit. He said: "Maybe a woman ferries her neighbour's children to the bus-stop or MRT, then goes marketing with their mother. On rainy days, when everybody wants to have a car, neighbours can car-pool too."