INCOME Launches First Car Cooperative Project In Toh Yi
By The Business Times | 18 AUGUST 1997

INSURER NTUC INCOME, which launched its maiden car cooperative project yesterday, expects to replicate the scheme in several parts of Singapore soon.
"We'll set up a national registry in about three months' time to find out where demand is greatest." INCOME chief executive Tan Kin Lian said yesterday in Toh Yi Estate, where 80 residents had said they will join the pilot scheme -- possibly Asia's first.
INCOME senior manager Yeow Hwee Ming said that for the cooperative to have economies of scale, it needed to have many more cars than the four it started out with at Toh Yi, a Housing Board development in Upper Bukit Timah.
"Our studies show that we need to have at least 50 cars for the project to break even." he said, indicating that half a dozen more cooperatives would likely be set up in six months.
Mr Yeow said INCOME had identified the Science Park off South Buona Vista Road as the next venue. The park has more than 150 research and development organisations with about 6,000 workers.
"We're also looking at industrial estates as well as MRT stations." he said. Mr Tan added that the car cooperative could be an alternative for corporations which did not want to own a huge fleet of company cars. He also raised the possibility of private car owners loaning their vehicles to the cooperative.
As for residential estates, INCOME will target commercial users, such as shopkeepers, to help beef up demand during off-peak periods.
The Toh Yi project has four Mitsubishi Lancers fitted with an onboard computer that controls an immobiliser as well as keeps track of mileage.
Charges are based on time and distance. For a round trip from Toh Yi to Changi Airport, using the cooperative car is marginally cheaper than hailing a taxi if parking charges are not factored in.
The project uses an automated key manager that reads a smart card and a personal identification number (PIN). Bookings, however, are still through INCOME operators.
Unlike rules governing rental companies, the INCOME cars are registered with private plates and thus can be driven in Malaysia. The MP for Bukit Timah GRC, Wang Kai Yuen, who officiated at the event, said this was an important ruling by the Land Transport Authority.
Sources said the LTA will soon extend the ruling to rental companies.