07 December 2005

Car Sharing in Asia?

Car Sharing in Asia?

A recent Transportation Research Board (TRB) notice on a new report caught my eye. The report from the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), Report 108: Car-Sharing— Where and How It Succeeds, has an Executive Summary online. It focuses on the North American experience and finds:
Car-sharing is overwhelmingly concentrated in metropolitan cores – around 95% of members are found in these settings. High density, a good pedestrian environment, a mix of uses and parking pressures all help car-sharing to succeed. Most important appears to be the ability to live without a car – or with just one vehicle. Low vehicle ownership rates are the best predictor of a strong market for car-sharing. University campuses also provide an important market niche. (p.ES-3)

This reminded me that I have been wondering about the progress of car sharing in the Asia Pacific region, and which Asian cities might have conditions well suited to flourishing car sharing. It is certainly taking off in Singapore with three competing companies - NTUC INCOME Car Co-op, Whizzcar and Honda ICVS.

At first glance it would seem that many other middle and higher-income Asian cities also have the right characteristics (or at least those that have managed to achieve some decent public transport). Most are certainly dense and have mixed land uses. Parking is often in short supply. Car ownership is low to modest throughout most of the region (with the exceptions of Malaysian cities and Brunei).

A quick search for Asian car sharing examples revealed that it is indeed starting to catch on in Japan (including Tokyo, Yokohama and Nagoya at least) according to an article in the Japan Times and an excellent web article on Car Sharing in Yokohama and Fukuoka which also provides a good description of car sharing and its background.

But elsewhere I drew a blank. What about Korean cities? Seoul is as public transport oriented as they come. Taipei’s public transport has been steadily improving and its urban characteristics look ideal. Certain parts of cities like KL and Bangkok might even have potential? Other places?

Does this suggest there is a business opportunity for car sharing in numerous cities around the region?


Dave said...

You might be interested in my comparison of rates and services in Singapore and Australia (my Japanese isn't good enough so I'll rely on Matt Barth):


Dave Brook

Paul Barter said...

Susan Shaheen has alerted me that she and her colleagues have a paper on this at the Transportation Research Board 82nd Annual Meeting January 2006 Washington, D.C.

"Carsharing and Station Cars in Asia: An Overview of Japan and Singapore" by Matthew Barth, Susan Shaheen, Tuenjai Fukuda, and Atsushi Fukuda

Paul Barter said...

The Straits Times reported on Jan 13, 2006 that there will indeed soon be a car share scheme in KL!

Singapore's NTUC Income Car Co-op members has been providing technical support.

"Godell Group, a leading carpark operator in Kuala Lumpur, has roped in Singapore's leading car-sharing company to help start a similar scheme in the Klang Valley.

Named KAR Club, it is Malaysia's maiden car-sharing project. It will start operating next month with an initial fleet of 10 to 15 Toyota Vios subcompacts.

Income Car Co-op has provided technical know-how and support to KAR Club, which will operate on a smartcard-based booking and access system identical to Income's. Hence members from the two sides can use each other's cars.

KAR Club cars will be available at stations on KL's rail network. Sites confirmed are KL Sentral (KL city air terminal), KL City Centre and Cyberjaya. In Singapore, most Income Car Co-op cars are available at Changi Airport as well as several MRT and LRT stations."