Option to owning

August 12th, 2009 by Philip Brasor & Masako Tsubuku

Nikoniko Rentacar

Three years ago we sold our car because we rarely used it and the cost of keeping it seemed ridiculously high. However, that had been the situation for at least five years before that, so why did it take so long to come to a decision? Mainly because we thought we might need a car for emergencies, transporting something, or the occasional trip out-of-town. We didn’t see any alternative.

For instance, we thought car rentals in Japan were prohibitively expensive. Twenty years ago, they were prohibitely expensive. Only businesses rented cars, which made sense given Japan’s superior rail network. But rental charges have come down considerably in the past decade, and earlier this summer two nationwide car rental services opened that offer extremely low rates.

One's Rentacar

Nikoniko Rentacar keeps their operating expenses low by stocking used vehicles and tying up with struggling gas stations who can provide them with facilities for maintenance and storage. The cars are small and start at ¥2,525 for half a day. They now have 88 outlets throughout Japan and plan to open 31 more in the near future. And since they are always on the look out for franchisers, the network will grow bigger with each month. By 2011 they estimate they’ll have a thousand outlets.

Then there’s One’s Rentacar, which charges a little more, ¥2,625 for half a day. Associated with Gulliver, the used car juggernaut, One’s now boasts about 60 outlets but says it will have about 300 by the end of the year. They even offer one hour rentals (¥1,000), collision insurance (¥1,050), and optional car navigation systems (¥500).

Anyway, it’s one more excuse not to hang on to your car.

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