NTUC Income's Car-Sharing Scheme Is Gaining Popularity And Other Companies Are Trying To Cash In As Well
By The Straits Times | 08 March 2002

Her car used to cost her more than $1,000 a month to run. She had to make car-loan payments, and pay for petrol, insurance and road tax.
And most of the time, the Flat was just parked. Now, for only $150 a month, Madam Goh Cheen Cheen, 38, still gets a car to drive when she needs it.
The housewife is one of more than 2,000 people, mainly Housing Board residents, with NTUC Income's car-sharing cooperative.
From one location when it started in 1997, the scheme now boasts 17 car pick-up points and 65 vehicles. And it is still growing: 45 new cars have been ordered and another 55 will arrive by year-end.
Every week, the cooperative gets at least three requests from residents and grassroots leaders asking for car-sharing to be introduced in their estates, said NTUC Income's chief executive officer Tan Kin Lian.
Other companies are trying to cash in as well.
Last week, Honda announced its own scheme. It will charge $15.90 an hour for the use of a 1.3-litre petrol-electric hybrid car. Each extra minute costs up to 50 cents.
Next up could be Popular Rent A Car, which plans to start car-sharing in privates estates and condominiums soon, said its general manager, Mr Ho Kok Kee.
But what draws people to car-sharing? Flexibility and low cost.
For as little as $8 an hour, a car is theirs to use.
Rental companies do not rent cars by the hours, only by the day, week and month.
Madam Goh, who usually takes the car to ferry daughters Sharifah Saniah, 10 and Sharifah Hawiah, 13, to school, and to language and other classes, likes the pay-as-you-use concept.
"When I had my own car, it was a waste of money making the monthly payments because, really, I did not use the car all the time."
Now, she uses a shared car two or three times a week. There is even a pick-up point in the carpark at her block in Toh Yi Drive.
She books the car by telephone or via the Net, retrieves the key from the key box at the pick-up point with her personal card, and drives off.
No carpark, no maintenance and no insurance charges. If she needs to top up on petrol, she will be reimbursed.
Car-sharing is not for people who need a car every day. It also is not convenient for those who do not live near a pick-up point. And it does require planning ahead.
Said property agent Serene Liu, 36: "I plan my appointments carefully so that when I need to meet clients or arrange for viewings, I just book the car for a few hours at one go."