$2 an hour car rental firm expands

Tribecar's fleet consists of the previous- generation (from left) Toyota Wish, Toyota Altis and Mitsubishi Lancer.
Tribecar's fleet consists of the previous- generation (from left) Toyota Wish, Toyota Altis and Mitsubishi Lancer.PHOTO: TRIBECAR

Ultra short-term rental company Tribecar has increased its fleet fivefold in six months.

The firm, which is going head to head with car-sharing operators, charges as little as $2 an hour. It now has 120 cars - up from 23 when it began operations in March.

Tribecar business development manager Charlene Kee says: "Our ambition now is to have a car in every carpark in Singapore, up from our initial target of having one at every other MRT station."

It has placed 20 cars in the Sengkang-Punggol area.

"They are within five minutes from residents living in the eastern side of these estates," Ms Kee says, adding that Tribecar will double the fleet there if response is positive.

The small start-up has more than 2,500 hirers, up from 210 when it started.

Ms Kee says occupancy is 100 per cent on weekends, and 79 to 80 per cent on weekdays.

"A good 40 per cent of our customers are using the cars to earn additional income through ride-hailing services," she says.

Tribecar's fleet consists of previous-generation Toyota Altis sedans, Mitsubishi Lancer sedans and Toyota Wish seven-seaters.

Ms Kee says the rental rate for the Wish is the same as the sedans, unlike other companies, which usually charge more for an MPV.

She also says Tribecar cars can be driven into Malaysia.

The company is aiming to reach a fleet size of 1,200 for it to have a presence in every public carpark, but does not have a target date when this will happen.

Initially, it was aiming to hit 500 cars by the end of the year - a target that it may not reach in time.

Tribecar was set up by a family which runs Malaysian conglomerate Insas. It offers short-term car rentals ranging from $2 to $6 an hour.

That is less than what most other car-sharing plans charge and far less onerous than the $1,500 a month charge most traditional rental companies levy. Some of Tribecar's hourly rates are lower than the taxi flagdown fare, which starts from $3.20.

Tribecar uses a system which allows hirers to access cars with just their smartphone. Once a hirer books a vehicle at a desired location and time slot, he can unlock it by keying in a PIN on his phone. Payment is via an e-wallet account with the company.

Motorist and Uber driver Jerry Yeo, 43, says Tribecar's operating model is "brilliant". "At $2 per hour for a Wish, it is amazing value," he adds.

"And expanding its fleet to more locations across the island only adds to its appeal.

But I hope the company will be renewing its ageing fleet."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2016, with the headline '$2 an hour car rental firm expands'. Print Edition | Subscribe