One would think that vehicles forming part of car-sharing networks would be used as a means of transportation to get people from point A to point B. And they would be right – but, in the Land of the Rising Sun, that’s not always the case.
Local car sharing providers Orix and Times24 Co. recently discovered that many of the vehicles in their car-sharing fleets were being rented by Japanese workers but not actually being driven. The two companies thus conducted surveys with their customers and discovered that the vehicles are being used for all manner of things other than driving, The Asahi Shimbun reports.
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For instance, a 31-year-old male respondent often rents cars to take naps or to eat meals in.
“I rented a car to eat a boxed meal that I bought at a convenience store because I couldn’t find anywhere else to have lunch,” he said. “Usually the only place I can take a nap while visiting my clients is a cybercafe in front of the station, but renting a car to sleep in is just a few hundred yen (several dollars), almost the same as staying in the cybercafe.”
In Japan, cars can be rented for around 400 yen (less than $4) per 30 minutes and picked up from one of the more than 12,000 parking spaces across Japan dedicated to car-sharing vehicles. Customers can reserve them for a few hours or a whole day through a smartphone application.
Speaking of smartphones, a number of the car-sharing users surveyed said they would rent cars to charge up their personal devices and as a place to conduct phone calls. What’s more, Japanese workers are using the cars as a place to watch TV, get changed, and even do stretches. One person said they even used a rental car as a place to store bags and other belongings when nearby coin lockers were full.
The car-sharing companies were surprised by what they found and aren’t entirely happy, as they make more money the further a rental car is driven.
“Motorists should shut off their engines when they’re not driving, and we do not recommend our customers rent vehicles for purposes other than traveling,” an Orix public relations official told Asahi. “We believe it’s best for our cars to be used for driving.”