Dubai starts car sharing service

16 January 2017

Vehicles can be hired on an hourly basis and complement other last mile services

A car-sharing service targeting Dubai residents and visitors with a valid driving license is available starting today.

The service, which costs between 40 and 50 fils a minute - equivalent to AED24 to AED30 an hour - depending on the location, is being offered by EKar and UDrive, both private operators licensed by the Dubai Roads & Transport Authority (RTA).

“This service aims to complement our existing last-mile service systems like the feeder buses,” Abdulla Yousif al-Ali, CEO of the RTA Public Transport Agency, tells MEED.

Al-Ali said the service, which provides cars for short periods with six hours being the maximum rental period, will be reviewed after three months to assess user preferences and to determine if an expansion of the fleet is required.

Al-Ali said he does not expect the car sharing service to have a direct impact on taxi and car rental services as it caters to a different group of users.

Ekar and Udrive will each deploy 100 cars immediately around 45 locations in Dubai. Ekar says half of its 100 fleet will be deployed around the Dubai Metro stations to enable “seamless linking” of the Metro network with communities across the emirate.

“We aim to provide freedom of driving a car without the hassle of owning one,” Vilhelm Hedberg, co-founder and CEO of Ekar, says.

Regular cars, mainly four-seater Nissan and Peugeot sedan models, coloured grey and green, respectively, comprise the combined 200 fleet. Future plans could include rolling out electric or hybrid vehicles, according to Mattar al-Tayer, RTA director general.

To utilise the service, UAE residents will have to register with either Ekar and Udrive by providing their ID, driving license and credit card details. Once these data are verified, the individual is issued with a personal identity number, which they will use to create a user name and password via an app.

The app allows the registered user to track vehicles and book a car up to two weeks in advance.

When a car is booked, the user can - within 15 minutes of the start of the planned journey - click an icon on the app to unlock the car. Once inside, the car is switched on by entering the PIN.

The service’s “geofence” is within Dubai, which means the cars cannot be driven outside of Dubai. The cars are to be parked at premium car parking lots operated by the RTA.

The bill is to be dispatched to the user using an electronic system.

In order to avail the same service, visitors to Dubai are required to register using their passport, visa, driving license and credit card details. “This is one of the solutions we are looking to explore… to hopefully help address congestion in Dubai,” Al- Ali tells MEED.

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