A slew of peer-to-peer rideshare services have gained popularity in parts of Asia in recent years, a sign that entrepreneurs are bullish that such businesses can become sustainable in their respective markets.
In Singapore, web portals like TompangBuddy and CarpoolKing have long existed as a meetup point for those who are eager to carpool.
However, the scene there is turning a corner. A second wave of rideshare services have gotten significant press coverage. A departure from Dot-Com type enterprises, many of these new startups are mobile-friendly and offer user interfaces that are more suited to modern sensibilities.
These startups can be categorized into carshare and cabshare services. Some straddle both.
Carshare-only: iCarClub is an interesting web service set to launch on 1st November. They are currently building a network of cars and car owners, and testing out a system that enables keyless entry, fuel management, an anti-theft feature, and other bells and whistles. The startup will take a 15% cut of each rental transaction. Car insurance will be included (read more on e27).
Cabshare-only: GoMyWay, launched in August, lets users share a cab with people who are traveling to the same destination. The mobile app has many safety features built-in to protect and ensure the privacy of its users. A similar smartphone app that launched slightly later is Split-It, also developed in Singapore. Both apps use in-app credit purchases to generate revenue. They are facing competition from CabCorner.com, an American startup that recently launched its services in Singapore.
Both: Some companies have decided to address both needs. And why not? MyRideBuddy and ShareTransport.sg are not just offering carshare and cabshare mobile solutions, they operate web services as well. ShareTransport.sg appears to have had a good start: It claims on its website to have signed up 8,800 members since March 2012. It even has a bus sharing service.
Singapore residents seems open to ridesharing. The high cost of car ownership, which is unlikely to abate, could ensure a strong demand for carpooling. Taxi fares in Singapore are not cheap either. Singaporeans generally feel safe living in the city, and that aids trust-building.
Elsewhere in Asia, rideshare services are also showing up
According to Forbes, there are 177 million cars in Asia alone. Further, many cities in Asia are beset by traffic congestion and pollution. Rideshare services can alleviate jams, reduce pollution, and increase the income of car owners. On the other hand, they might hurt the pockets of cab drivers and public transport operators, causing them to resist such services.
Trust is also a big issue, and in cities where crime rates are high, carsharing might be a concept that is treated warily. But this has not stopped a bevy of such services from appearing:
China: PickRide is a promising service that works in both China and the US. Wodache, which services residents in Beijing, has the potential to alleviate the city’s strangulating traffic jams. Mitfahrenchina is another alternative, although a writer recommends that you avoid it.
India: A complete list can be found here. OliveTrips is unique in that it sends users EcoReports that highlight the environmental benefits and financial savings they have accumulated. A common trait among these companies is the use of SMS to facilitate communication between carpool users, no doubt due to low smartphone usage.
This article is in constant beta. Let us know if we missed a startup, and tell us why we should include it.