Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Carsharing in Japan - A corner in the road

As will be seen in this latest report on carsharing developments in Japan, the period of quiet mainly slow growth appears to be heating up. The sharply divided attitudes of the auto industry suppliers is a clear sign of a very different future. Let's stay tuned, there may be some interesting lessons for all of us.

TOKYO, Aug 24, 2009

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services -
Nissan Motor Co. and Audi Japan KK, have joined Toyota Motor Corp. in offering car-sharing schemes, in a move designed to counter sagging auto sales by raising brand recognition and increasing the firms' ecological appeal.

Unlike a rental car service, in which many cars are made available to any number of customers, in a car-sharing scheme one car is shared by a limited number of people who must be members. The members each possess IC cards used to unlock the cars.

Nissan has been providing a car-sharing service in Yokohama since late July on an experimental basis through an affiliated rental car firm. The 20 or so members of the scheme jointly use a Nissan Otti light car and March compact car.

The members must make a reservation to use the vehicles and are required to pay a monthly fee of 980 yen plus an initial charge of 6,460 yen. The rental rate is determined by tallying the total driving time (340 yen per 15 minutes) and distance traveled (15 yen per kilometer). (Note: 100 JPY = 1.06 USD)

Nissan plans to increase the models available and boost membership by expanding its service network across the country.

Audi Japan KK, a Japanese subsidiary of Audi AG of Germany, will later this month jointly launch a car-sharing business with Sumitomo Realty and Development Co., a major real estate firm. The share scheme service center will be located in Roppongi, Tokyo.

The service will be limited to tenants of Izumi Garden, a Sumitomo-operated apartment complex in Roppongi. Three Audi models, including an "A6 Avant," will be made available.

An increasing number of people are joining car-sharing schemes as more people choose not to own a car. According to the Foundation for Promoting Mobility and Ecological Transportation, car-sharing schemes had a total of 6,400 members nationwide as of January, almost double that a year before.

Car-sharing originally grew popular in Europe as a result of environmental concerns, an ethical stance that conflicts with the interests of carmakers, which want to increase car sales.

But an official of one automotive firm said participation in car-sharing schemes "gives carmakers a chance to advertise the selling points of their cars."

Toyota entered the car-sharing business in November 2007. Despite the entry into the car-sharing business by Toyota, Nissan and Audi Japan, some in the industry are against the move, noting its potential negative effect on car sales.

An official of a major carmaker slammed car firms for participating in the schemes, likening it to firms "tightening a noose around their own necks."

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* To view all World Streets postings to date on carshare development in Japan - -

* For all WS articles on carsharing:

* For World Carshare Consortium home page-

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