In recent years, Japan has been sharing its cars, and car rental points are located in the parking lots of the streets and streets of the city. Users can use the mobile phone program to rent a car for 10 or 15 minutes, and the price per minute is about 13 yen.
However, local surveys show that many people rent cars not for transportation, but use them as rooms, take a nap in the car, eat lunch, call, etc., and hope to find a private space in a busy life.
In big cities such as Tokyo, Japan, having a car means renting or buying expensive parking spaces, and public transportation is convenient, so that more and more people simply choose not to buy a car.
In line with this trend, local shared car companies have emerged since 2009, providing affordable and convenient car rental services. The local media, The Japan Times, reported that the number of registered car service subscribers reached 465,000 in 2014, a 70-fold increase in just five years.
Referring to the three major shared car companies, the user pays about 1,000 yen (72 Hong Kong dollars) per month for membership fees, and charges for time when using the service. It also pays an oil fee of 16 yen (1.2 Hong Kong dollars) per kilometer.
Since the rental fee is linked to the distance, the shared car company will record the driving distance of the customer. According to the Asahi Shimbun, Orix CarShare, a company with 230,000 members, found a strange phenomenon when analyzing data last year. It is precisely because many users traveled zero, that is, they did not actually drive on the road.
Another company, Times 24 (タイムズ24), also found the same phenomenon, so it surveyed 1.2 million members and asked people why they rented a car. What surprised the company was that the answers given by the users were varied: when they came out for work, they took a while, when they could not find the lockers, they temporarily put their luggage and charged the phone…
The use of shared cars goes far beyond this. NTT Docomo (NTTドコモ), a Japanese telecommunications company, conducted similar investigations last year. 50 of the 400 respondents used to be “zero-trip” shared car users, making phone calls, eating meals, reading books, sheltering from the rain, etc. Some people even tried to rent a car to practice speaking English, singing, and self-portraits.
Japanese columnist Kashima Chihiro (Okashima) commented that the professionals who work in the field, such as the sales industry, are likely to become “zero-trip” users, because this group has no fixed place to rest, eat, and share everywhere. The car just provides such a place.
Car-nalism (カーナリズム), an online media specializing in car intelligence, wrote that young people living with family and friends or renting shared cars for lack of private space. They may worry that singing in their own room, reading aloud may disturb others, or hoping to have a quiet space to concentrate, or think that being discovered will be shy.
The British media BBC reported last year that the per capita living area in Tokyo is about 205 square feet, and the average value of cities in the country is 237 square feet. In Hong Kong, the figure is 170 square feet. This may also explain why the Japanese people are willing to rent a car and have their own “room” in 15 or 30 minutes.
However, “zero-trip” users are not welcomed by a number of shared car companies, as this will reduce the company’s revenue by distance.