Car-sharing firms upbeat on recovery


CAR-SHARING providers anticipate a promising recovery in business and utilisation after suffering more than a 50% decline in their operations earlier this year as a result of the nationwide implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO).

GoCar Malaysia CEO Alan Cheah said his car-sharing platform saw a drastic decrease in demand as it lost more than 75% of utilisation for GoCars during the MCO period.

He said as the revenue and sales also went down, the company chose to monetise the current inventory and only order when there is a need, and negotiate with other partners to delay or provide partial or full discounts.

During the MCO, the company also avoided non-time-sensitive transactions and freeze much of the recruiting, unless it is necessary for the growth of the company.

“It’s harder to fix a moving train, and the MCO gave us a breather to stop the train and fix, improve whatever needed.

“We decided to focus on enhancing the values to the community, increasing user acquisition effort and improving operational processes,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in an email interview.

He said because transportation is an essential service, GoCar’s business is picking up again during the Recovery MCO and is now back on a growth trajectory.

Cheah also noted that with the new travelling norms, people are more inclined to use alternative transportation such as car-sharing, as long as the company takes the necessary steps to maintain the car’s cleanliness.

“We increased our maintenance scheduling even more and improved our tech algorithms that track which cars need to be maintained more frequently than usual.

“It is a two-way effort as we have been encouraging our users to be more civic-minded when it comes to utilising a car-sharing platform. Everyone must play their part to keep the cars hygienic for the next user.”

GoCar has also implemented a new rule where if a car has been in contact with a Covid-19 suspect or patient, the vehicle will be deactivated, quarantined and professionally sanitised.

Similarly, Socar Mobility Malaysia Sdn Bhd CEO Leon Foong said the car-sharing platform also saw a decrease in usage because of the restrictions implemented by the government.

He said now that economic sector has been reopened, the company is seeing its usage rates getting back on track again, indicating a positive sign of recovery.

“We did not encourage our members to make travel plans during the MCO period, but we assured them that if there was an absolute need to use our cars to purchase groceries or medical supplies or for emergencies, our cars were available and had been properly maintained.

“We are still practising preventive measures to ensure the safety of our members and the hygiene of our cars is maintained,” he told TMR.

Socar remains optimistic about its growth and is confident of more untapped opportunities to expand in the Malaysian market.

Foong said the company remains focused on expanding and strengthening its foothold, despite the threats of the pandemic.

He said this includes expansion to more cities, introducing more services and features to meet the members demand, as well as exploring opportunities beyond Malaysia.

“Transportation is still a key need for everyone, even in the wake of the pandemic. What has changed are the services or features that customers are looking for.

“So, in this ‘new normal’, businesses need to be flexible and adaptable in tweaking their business model and offerings to capitalise on new customer preferences, in order to not just survive, but also thrive.”

Foong also noted that the safety and sanitisation aspect will continue to be a top concern for customers in the car-sharing space for the next six to 12 months.

Socar uses the keyless technology to facilitate a contactless handoff when cars are delivered to members with a safe distance by the SOCAR-2-YOU delivery team.