New car-sharing service Shariot was launched last October, with an aim to provide affordable car-sharing services for Singaporeans.
It targets local heartlanders, offering short-term vehicle rentals from as low as S$1 per hour.
“We understand that owning a car in Singapore is a luxury that comes with long-term commitments,” said a Shariot spokesperson.
“With demand for car-sharing services on the rise since Phase 2 reopening of the economy last year, we believe that we are able to offer users an affordable, accessible and personalised car-sharing experiences.”
Operating 24/7, Shariot adopts an A-to-A return trip car-sharing model.
In other words, Shariot users — who are affectionally called Sharioteers — have to collect and drop off the car at the same location.
Sharioteers are meant to pick them up at a carpark closest to their homes, drive them for as long as they need and then drive them back home as they would if they owned that vehicle. For however short a timeframe Sharioteers would use the vehicle, it is truly meant to feel like using their own personal vehicle.
The single-trip car-sharing model, also known as A-to-B, creates a less than desirable effect because the vehicles at any point and time can be altered overnight giving some users less options when they need to book the vehicles the most.
– Shariot spokesperson
10,000 Sign Ups In A Single Day
When Shariot first launched, they were greeted with an “overwhelming response that was simply incredible”.
They received over 10,000 sign-ups in a single day, and their live chat was flooded with messages that their customer service officers (CSOs) had a hard time coping with the amount of enquiries.
“Thankfully, we managed to overcome this wave of response and genuinely treasure those early adopters who signed up with us,” said the Shariot spokesperson.
While they saw strong demand, they also experienced some teething issues at the start. They were initially short-staffed, along with minor technical app issues that prevented users from signing up.
Shariot has since ramped up hiring to better cater to users’ demands, and are currently still hiring to expand their team.
“With regards to the app development, we have since corrected all major issues interfering with the experience and we are continuing to make the experience even better for Sharioteers with a few major updates to come in the next month or so,” said the Shariot spokesperson.
How To Book A Shariot Car
According to Shariot, its fleet of cars are easily accessible near to MRT stations islandwide.
To join Shariot, users will first need to complete registration on its app — available for download on both iOS and Android devices — by uploading their NRIC and driver’s license.
Shariot does not charge any member registration fee, but users would have to pay a S$100 security deposit, which will be refunded once the user chooses to terminate their account.
Once the Shariot team has verified the user’s particulars, he/she can then proceed to access its entire fleet of cars.
The user can book a Shariot by simply selecting their location, duration of the trip, and an available vehicle. After retrieving the vehicle at the time of booking, the user can simply swipe ‘start trip’ to begin the journey.
The hassle-free nature of our service means that Sharioteers can unlock their ride and drive away completely keyless. Pets are also allowed.
Car rentals, on the other hand, mostly allow only advance bookings during office hours, and vehicles can be collected from limited locations that may not be easily accessible or as convenient. We are trying to make it that much easier to drive a vehicle whenever the need should arise, without the process of showing up to a certain location to rent a vehicle in the traditional sense.
– Shariot spokesperson
Shariot prides itself as having one of the lowest rates among other car-sharing services in Singapore.
There are no confusing pricing grids, but a clear charging table based solely on the vehicle class and booking time.
Shariot’s cars are split into three different types of classes: Shariot Saver, Shariot Standard and Shariot Plus. To put things in perspective, here are some cars under the respective classes:
- Shariot Saver: Toyota Altis, Volkswagen Polo, Suzuki Hustler, Toyota Allion, Kia Forte, Mazda 3, Toyota Wish
- Shariot Standard: Honda Vezel Petrol, Audi A1, Kia K3, Toyota Vios, Toyota Altis, Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Axio
- Shariot Plus: Toyota Sienta, Toyota Vellfire, Audi A3, Toyota Prius, Honda Vezel Hybrid, Honda Grace Hybrid
“Sharioteers can rent vehicles for as short as 15 minutes with rates starting from $0.25 during super off-peak hours (12am to 5.59am),” said the spokesperson, adding that they have no plans to increase their rates in the upcoming peak season.
Stepping Up Safety And Hygiene Efforts During COVID-19
While the COVID-19 pandemic has indeed impacted many businesses, it also presented some business opportunities.
The silver lining of the pandemic is that, rather than carpooling with others, commuters are looking for an alternative where they get to have a car to themselves (so they can) minimise contact with others.
This has resulted in high demand for our service, especially during the year-end holiday season. As people aren’t allowed to travel overseas, we do see more users renting cars to travel around Singapore.
– Shariot spokesperson
The pandemic also meant that they have to step up on their safety and hygiene efforts, which is something that Shariot takes very seriously.
Shariot has an operations team that takes care of car washes, sanitation and all maintenance works, on top of weekly cleanings of its entire fleet.
For instance, if the interior of their vehicle is dirty upon retrieval (pet fur, cigarette ash, dirt, clutter, vomit, etc), the Shariot team will take immediate action to clean it.
In fact, they have a dedicated team of car groomers that go around Singapore to address various concerns that are brought up by Sharioteers.
So what happens to errant users who damage or dirty Shariot’s car?
“For those users who are not in line with our community standards, we currently penalise them after an investigation and in many cases, block the user from using our service again,” said the Shariot spokesperson.
“We take pride in our fleet of Shariots and will not allow for members of our community to suffer at the hands of a few irresponsible hirers.”
He added that they will work on encouraging responsible usage in a future update to the platform and their Terms and Conditions (T&Cs).
On social media, Shariot makes it a point to constantly remind users the importance of road safety and responsibility for themselves and others when using their vehicles.
Car-Sharing Industry Is Set To Grow In Asia
While owning a car is an undeniable luxury for the average Singaporean, car-sharing services are expected to increase at 31.5 per cent CAGR from 2018 to 2024.
In Asia Pacific, the car-sharing market is expected to hit US$2 billion by 2024.
“Similarly, in Singapore, we are witnessing an uptick in this trend due to the flexibility, easy nearby access and comfortable rides that car-sharing services provide,” said the Shariot spokesperson.
As car-sharing shows to be a burgeoning opportunity, the Shariot team is excited to grow its service further.
The founding team has invested an “initial seven-figure investment” to get the startup off the ground. While they have yet to break even, Shariot has been “seeing success” so far.
They declined to comment on specific growth figures, but revealed that they have expanded their fleet of vehicles by more than double since the launch of their service in October 2020.
Our size of fleet is to surpass 400 in the next few months to benefit many of users who have been waiting to use our service. … Additionally, 200 more vehicles will be making their debut islandwide by Q2 (2021).
We are currently rolling out 100 brand new cars ranging from Toyota C-HRs, Honda Hybrids, and many more. This is unprecedented as most companies in this industry rely solely on cars that have been rented numerous times with different companies.
– Shariot spokesperson
Additionally, while Shariot operates on a point A-to-A car-sharing model now, it acknowledges that it sees the need for the A-to-B model too, so they are “looking into it closely” and might introduce that option down the road.
“Our future expansion will allow for many more features that will allow the overall experience to become that much better. We look forward to serving our community in ways that have never been seen before.”
“Right now, our primary focus is taking in all the feedback of our user base and to build a service centred around them. We not only listen, but we care.”
Shariot added that it hopes to bring about change in what car-sharing means to the users, and make them understand why their platform is fundamentally different from many in the market.
Featured Image Credit: Shariot