Car Sharing Options in Japan

ByJustin Hanus
Sep 28, 2021

Car Sharing Options in Japan

Car ownership was booming in most economically advanced societies a few years ago. However, the car as a status symbol seems to be declining as more young people today are turning towards the more economically sustainable option of renting and sharing equipment. Car sharing is growing in popularity in Japan and could increase further as we shift towards self-driving automobiles.

What is car sharing?

Car sharing is an easy and convenient way to access car transport without going through the costs and hassle of buying and owning a car. It’s a service where you rent vehicles by the hour via a membership subscription to a car-sharing club. It differs from traditional car renting in that you don’t simply hire one car from a storefront. Your subscription gives you access to all vehicles within your car-sharing program. You can usually pick up cars from car-sharing stations or parking lots located across the country and in major cities. In this sense, it’s similar to many cycle hire schemes where you pay by the hour and pick cycles up from docking points.

What does it cost?

Different companies offer different subscription options. Most charge initial sign-up fees, monthly membership fees, hourly usage fees, plus there can be penalty fees for late returns or road violations. The advantage is that you don’t have to pay for gas, insurance, vehicle maintenance, registration, or other costs associated with car ownership. Everything is included in the monthly fee. Typical costs are around 1,000-1,500 yen in sign-up fees, approximately 1,000 yen monthly payments, and 800-1,000 yen per hour usage fees (plus a small per km distance charge).

Who are the main car-sharing companies in Japan?

A few different car share providers are operating across Japan that offers specific deals and membership plans. These main companies are:

How does car sharing work?

Joining a car-sharing club and using the service is pretty straightforward. You can sign up by either downloading an app onto your mobile device, visiting the company website, or doing it in-person at a physical site. You’ll usually need a credit card or bank details, a driving license valid in Japan, and either an email address or mobile number. Once you’re signed up, you should receive a membership card. You can search for availability and book your time slot via the website or app to hire a car. Then go collect your car by touching the label on the car’s body with your card to unlock it. Keys are usually kept in the glove compartment inside the car.

Car sharing rules

  • Car sharing is typically for short-term hire, usually for a maximum period of around 72 hours.
  • Members are usually responsible for keeping vehicles clean. Most car-sharing firms operate a “hand it back as you found it” policy.
  • Check the vehicle over before driving to identify (and report) any noticeable damage.
  • Check the details of where you should leave the car at the end of the session. Some firms may allow you to leave cars at any sharing station, but others may specify a location and might charge a penalty fee if you leave it elsewhere.

Tatawidepine, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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