SOCAR wants to disrupt car ownership in Malaysia

SOCAR, the car-sharing platform from South Korea is now available in Malaysia. You can think of it as an on-demand car rental service where you can drive a car from as little as RM8/hour with petrol included.

According to SOCAR, 93% of Klang Valley households own a car and 90% of these vehicles are idling most of the time. While our public transportation such as MRT and LRT are improving, we have ride-sharing services such as Uber and Grab filling the gap for point to point transportation.

For moments when you need a car to yourself, car sharing is an alternative solution. Looking at the bigger picture, SOCAR has the potential to disrupt car ownership. The service enables Malaysians to drive a car without the hassle of typical car ownership. There are no loans, car maintenance or fuel cost to worry about.

Their fleet currently includes the Perodua Axia, Honda City, Honda HR-V and the Mini Cooper. Below are their rates before GST:

Perodua Axia
Weekday – RM8.00/hour
Weekend – RM11.00/hour

Honda City
Weekday – RM9.90/hour
Weekend – RM15.90/hour

Honda HR-V
Weekday – RM18.90/hour
Weekend – RM25.00/hour

Mini Cooper
Weekday – RM25.00/hour
Weekend – RM30.00/hour

If you just need to use the car for the night, they are also offering a SOCAR Stress-Free Pass that’s quite affordable for offpeak usage. Below are their rates for usage between 7PM to 8AM which you can book from Monday to Thursday.

Perodua Axia – RM28
Honda City – RM37
Honda HR-V – RM69

UPDATE: The Stress Free Pass is limited to 100 redemptions a day and it’s open from 12PM to 7PM. This promotion will be available until 31 January 2018.

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If you book a car for 24 hours, they will only charge you a maximum of 10 hours. Whether you’re booking it for 10, 12 or 24 hours, it will be the same amount. So if you’re using it for 2 full days (eg. 10AM Monday – 10AM Wednesday), you’ll be charged 20 hours of use.

For a full day, a Perodua Axia would cost you from RM84.80 all-in inclusive of GST while the larger Honda City costs RM104.90/day. Meanwhile, an HRV is going from RM200.34/day while the Mini Cooper costs RM265/day, also inclusive of GST. SOCAR allows you to book from little as 30 minutes up to a week.

Everything is managed through the app and it’s a fully keyless system. Once a booking has been made, you can unlock/lock the car using the app and all you’ll need to do is to press the push start button to start the engine. You won’t have to worry about parking as all SOCAR vehicles have their own dedicated parking lots. The only inconvenience is that you’ll need to return the car to its original location.

Petrol and insurance are covered by SOCAR and they cover 30KM per hour or a maximum of 300KM per day as part of their promo (Default is 15KM per hour). If you exceed the allocated mileage, SOCAR will charge an excess fee of RM0.25 per KM. A Shell petrol card is included and you must return the car with the tank having at least 50% of fuel. If not, there will be a penalty charge of RM100. Smoking and vaping are also not allowed and there’s a fine of RM300.

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At the moment, SOCAR vehicles are scattered at 100 locations around Kuala Lumpur with a concentration in Bangsar South, Midvalley, Bangsar, KL Sentral, Damansara Heights, Sri Hartamas, Mont Kiara, Pudu Sentral, Bukit Bintang, KLCC and Chow Kit. Some vehicles are located at condominiums which are only accessible by residents.

If you can’t pick up the car, SOCAR also offers a D2D (Door to Door) service at RM5 which includes both pickup and drop-off to your prefered location. It’s available in limited areas between 7AM to 7PM daily from Mondays to Fridays.

If you need to extend your booking, you can do so via the SOCAR app. However, if you can’t extend because another user has booked the next timeslot, you can call customer service for rescheduling which would cost an RM30 penalty for 10-30 minutes extension. Any additional time required after 30 minutes would cost you twice the rental rate per hour.

In terms of payment, they only accept credit and debit card, and there’s a discounted subscription fee of RM10 (Normal: RM50) which will be charged on your first ride. Do note that tolls aren’t covered and you’ll need to pay with your own Touch ‘n Go and SmartTAG.

During registration, you’ll need to take a selfie photo of yourself holding your identification card and a photo of your valid driver’s license. Do note that SOCAR is only applicable to CDL (Competent Driving licence) drivers so “P” (Probationary) license holders are not permitted.

In South Korea, SOCAR has served over 3 million users with its fleet of 9,000 cars over the past five years. At the moment, SOCAR has 240 cars in Malaysia and they aim to bring this total to 10,000 by 2020 to support over a million users.

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Overall, it is an interesting way to rent a car and it’s easier than your typical car rental company. There’s less paperwork and you can start driving within 30 minutes of making a booking.

Of course, such car-sharing service isn’t new in Malaysia. There’s GoCar by Mayflower Acme Tours and COMOS which operates a fleet of electric Renault vehicles. From our first impressions, SOCAR appears to be a more seamless option as it’s fully keyless/cardless and they offer a generous mileage of up to 300KM per day with fuel included. In order to reduce car ownership in the Klang Valley, SOCAR would need to expand their network further to cover more hotspots including MRT/LRT stations and high-dense residential areas.

To give it a try, you can download the SOCAR app which is available for both Android and iOS. For more info, you can check out their official website.