How to rent a car with zero human interaction – GoCar

10/10/2017 Update – I got a call from Grabcar, stating that grab is in no way associated with GoCar. Apologies on the wrong information. (Regina from Grab, I hope you’re reading this.)

What the Hell is GoCar?

I never knew about GoCar until I saw it at a Petrol Station. I saw it for several times but still never gave a shit about it. And then I was looking at the website for the MaGIC Symposium Event and saw that one of the speakers is the COO of GoCar. It got me curious. What the hell is GoCar? So I looked it up and landed on their website.

It turns out GoCar is an app based car rental service.

Founded in March 2015 by TJ Tan, GoCar was later sold to the Tan Chong Group. Hence the Nissan Almera. TJ Tan must have been laughing all the way to the bank. Hopefully I could also laugh my way to the bank one day.

For those of you doing research on Marketing, my experience on how I finally landed on their web page could probably be a small case study for you. Getting people to call you up or use your service requires repetitive encounter. Also getting your name mentioned in major events helps. Although I strongly believe in the effectiveness of social media advertising/marketing, I never even once came across GoCar on social media.

You only have 2 options when it comes to renting with GoCar. It’s either the Almera or the Grand Livina. They used to offer the Iriz and the Myvi, but since the acquisition by Tan Chong Group only Nissans are available. Just like the genius founder of McDonald’s, Ray Kroc, who focused on the hamburgers and fries and didn’t give a damn about fried chicken. Focus on your strengths and what sells the most.

How Much Does It Cost?

Let’s get straight to the point

For the Nissan Almera.

Registration FeeRM50.00-Once a lifetime
1 Hour RentalRM14.90Fuel Included

15km limit per hour.Every excess km will be charged RM0.50

1 Day RentalRM99.00Fuel not included-
1 Month RentalRM1,980.00Fuel not included-

*Price is not inclusive of GST

Payment can only be made via credit or debit card.

The car has to be returned at the same GoCar location you took it from.

You can look up the rates for the Grand Livina on their website.

Pickup Locations

You can get to these locations via GrabCar with a discount since these services are related. At the time I wanted to book, these were the offers:

grab promo for gocar

How do You Use it?

Install the app. Then create your account. This will require you to upload your drivers’ license. And once you’re verified, you’re good to go. This could take up to 12 hours. It depends.

No payment so far.

You will be charged the registration fee when you make your first booking. For a one time user, this isn’t really worth it, especially if you are renting by the hour. It is a considerable option if you are going to rent more than once.

Make a booking and payment, and you can access the car 5 minutes before the set rental time. You just click ‘Start Rental’ and within a minute the car will unlock itself.

I was amused.

Just follow the instructions from the app, it is easy.

You then get into the car and you will find this in the glove box

You’ll get a pin number to unlock this and you will find the car keys inside.

As easy as that.

The car is now yours (in accordance to the rental agreement of course)

Once you’re done, return it to the same spot and end your rental session on the app. This is very important so you don’t get charged for late returns.

Condition of the Car

At 43,406km the car was in good condition. It was clean, but previous users have scratched the underside of the front bumper. All around there were minor scratches on the bumpers. The electronics were functioning. The tyres were in good condition and there were no squeaks or rattles for as long as I was driving.

Is this Better Than Renting Cars the Conventional Way?

Since I rented on an hourly basis, I’d say it is a bummer. With the 15km limit per hour, how far really can you go? You do have to return the car at the same spot, so that’s really just a 7.5 km radius. You can exceed the distance limit, but you will be charged RM0.50 for every excess kilometre.

Renting for a day at RM99 is cheaper than a lot of car rental providers for a B-segment saloon.

There is a RM50 registration fee so if you are just going to rent for one time only, the price isn’t very competitive. I do believe that this would be worth it for someone who frequently rents cars. A father of a friend of mine lives in Miri and frequently travels to Kuala Lumpur for meetings. He bought a car and has it parked in the Peninsular just so that he could move around easily when he’s on a business trip in the peninsular. It would probably be more cost effective for him to sign up with a car sharing app such as GoCar.

It is cheaper when you compare it to similar sized saloons from other car rental providers. Just look at the prices in these screenshots.

Renting on an Hourly Basis is Not Worth it

You have a very strict time limit.

There is a grace period of 5 minutes before the start of the rental and 5 minutes after the end of the rental session. So if you rent for 2 hours like I did, you have 130 minutes.

You are going to use that time to check the damages. This will take a few seconds only.

You also only have a 15km limit for every hour. Every excess kilometre will be charged RM0.50. This is because the initial charge includes the fuel cost. It is good that fuel is included but you can’t go far with that distance limit.

You then have to return the car to the same spot, so that’s 30km for a round trip only. (I rented for 2 hours)

You have to pay for parking and toll.

You are better of renting for the whole day.

Or getting a Grab or Uber ride.

Is this the Future?

We have food and groceries delivered to our doorsteps, apps that help us find dates, on demand television programs, and social media that allows us to share our opinions to the general public regardless of how insignificant we are. Car sharing seems to fit perfectly in this picture.

How fast will car sharing grow? Probably not as quick as ride sharing (Grab and Uber) because you still have to deal with having to park the car and having to having return it (time cost). With ride sharing you just have to pay for the ride. You don’t have to worry about parking or having your Touch N Go reloaded. The price is competitive for daily rates as compared to existing car rental providers.

There hasn’t been much marketing going around for GoCar (not that I notice of). They’re probably not ready to handle so many users for the time being.

I see less people opting for car ownership in the future. If you work in the city and live in a SOHO (Shop,Office House) type of building, take public transport to work, and only drive on the weekends, you could cut a lot from your expenditure by not owning a car. The financing, maintenance, fuel, toll, and parking add up to a lot of unnecessary costs. And the car depreciates in value as we move forward through time.

We have come quite far since the invention of the internal combustion engine.

Until then

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