Following the rapid popularity of Mobike, which allows people to rent bikes at hundreds of locations across the city, a car sharing service has also hit the streets of Guangzhou. “About 1,500 cars will become available to an estimated 1 million users next year,” said Cao Guangyu, the general manager of Global Carsharing (a company to provide rental cars), at the conference on the sharing of new energy cars on December 16.
This car sharing service, which originated in the Cambridge neighborhood of Boston in the United States, was introduced to China in 2011. Car rental companies provide vehicles at unguarded rental outlets and then drivers can find them by using a car sharing mobile app just as they do to use Mobike or ofo bicycles. No key is required. Users simply click an “open the door” key on the app to get into the car, and the key to start the car is placed on a cup holder. When users complete their journeys, they can park the cars at nearby rental outlets. The car rental fee is calculated by hours and driving distance. Compared with the taxi, the rental car is relatively cheap, according to a user who tried the new car. He said that to drive 9.5 kilometers in 16 minutes would cost 15 yuan and the same trip by taxi could fetch 25 yuan.
Guangzhou’s Higher Education Mega Center and the Zengcheng district are the only areas currently providing such a service up to now.
The rental cars are environmentally friendly. Most of those in use are energy-efficient. That also means that more charging stations are needed, which remains one obstacle in implementing this new service.
Car sharing, viewed as another model of the sharing economy following Mobike and car hailing, can bring people a new option for traveling in the city.
(By Chris Wang, Louis Berney)