Cash Rebates For Car-Share Members
By The Straits Times | 19 AUGUST 2003

INCOME'S six-year-old car-sharing scheme will have a surplus of about $1 million by the end of this year, and its members can expect their first cash rebate soon.
For a venture that started in 1997 amid public skepticism, that is not half bad. Mr Lai Meng, who is in charge of Income's non-insurance businesses, said the cooperative will decide how much to distribute to its 3,400 or so members at an annual general meeting. He indicated that 40 to 60 per cent of it could be paid out.
This is the first time Income's car-sharing business is paying cash rebate. It had distributed 'rebates' in kind, such as stays at its Pulau Ubin chalets and other freebies.
'We started having a cash surplus from the second year. But we never gave cash rebates because certificate of entitlement prices were quite volatile in those days. Now, we feel COEs are more stable.' Mr Lai said, explaining that Income needed to keep more cash then.
Members may get back '5 to 10 per cent' of what they have spent, Mr Lai said. 'Say you spent $5,000 over the years, you'll get $250 back.'
Member Gordon Lam, vice-president of Singapore Exchange who is married without children, said he was 'quite happy' with Income's scheme on the whole. Put off by high car prices and rental rates, the 42-year-old found Income's car-sharing scheme 'fairly reasonable'.
In fact, he liked the plan so much he moved to Simei to be near a car-sharing station.
Mr Lai said car-sharing works well in Singapore because of the relatively low charges and Singapore's size. 'Unlike in the bigger countries, you don't need a car for 24 hours here.' he said.
For a registration fee of $104, an annual membership fee of $124.80 and a refundable deposit of $100, users get to drive a car for less than an equivalent taxi ride at off-peak hours. Details are available on Income has 115 cars and its members tend to be educated, tech-savvy men in their mid-20s to late-30s.
Car-sharing has been so successful that three other companies have jumped in. ComfortDelGro Corp's City- Speed, Honda Motor's Honda Diracc and Popular Rent-A-Car's WhizzCar have over 1,000 members together. On expansion plans, Mr Lai said: 'Right now, we're trying to convince rental companies with spare capacity to take up our franchise.'