IN A FLAP OVER ROOSTER PLANS?

Bumper business

ST ILLUSTRATION: ADAM LEE

Car rental and car-sharing firms have entered their busiest period of the year.

With Chinese New Year around the corner, many people are seeking convenient transport options to visit relatives or head across the Causeway for the long weekend.

Rental company Avis, which does about five times more business during this period, said all its 300 short-term rental vehicles have been booked for the festive season.

Those still planning to rent a car to ferry their families around during the festive celebrations will need to hurry. Other companies said up to 90 per cent of their fleets are booked for the week of Chinese New Year.

Sunday Times found bookings are still available at Motorway Car Rentals, Ace Drive, Popular Rent a Car and online portal Drive.sg which aggregates cars from more than 50 rental companies.

Rental company Avis, which does about five times more business during this period, said all its 300 short-term rental vehicles have been booked for the festive season.

These companies, however, require a minimum rental of between five and seven days due to a lack of manpower over the public holidays to facilitate returns, they said.

Most of Drive.sg's remaining inventory is made up of luxury cars, though "these tend to get taken up as people get desperate", said its co-founder Adrian Lee. About 10 per cent of customers drive to Malaysia during the festive period - most of them are "people avoiding relatives, or non-Chinese folk taking the opportunity to travel," he noted.

Car-sharing firms like Whizzcar and Car Club offer more flexible options, with multiple pick-up locations and rentals that can be as short as an hour.

However, there are sign-up fees and membership charges.

Whizzcar has seen a 10 per cent increase in membership sign-ups in the two months leading up to Chinese New Year, and about 85 per cent of its 150 available cars have been pre-booked.

Car Club managing director Gary Ong said while many of its 250 cars are booked for the weekend, car-sharing, which usually caters to regular users, is not much affected by seasonal demand.

Student Mah Wei Ren, 22, said he is looking for a rental car to drive his family of five around for the first few days of Chinese New Year. "We have some activities lined up, like watching movies and visiting relatives, and it would be nice to have a car."

Tiffany Fumiko Tay

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 22, 2017, with the headline 'Bumper business'. Print Edition | Subscribe