Posts Tagged ‘rental cars’

Annals of Cheap: Eco Rent-a-car

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

All you need to know: Sign outside Eco Rent-a-car office in Ota advertising prices

All you need to know: Sign outside Eco Rent-a-car office in Ota advertising prices

Since selling our car some years ago we’ve made do with public transportation, bicycles and our own four feet to get around, even after we moved out of the city. It hasn’t been as much of a hassle as you might think, but, then again, we’re easy about such things. Still, once in a while you need a car.

Several weeks ago we had to go to Ota in Gunma Prefecture to do some research. Ota is the home of the manufacturer Fuji Juko, whose most famous product is Subaru automobiles. Our mission in Ota would take us to two locations, and since we don’t have a car we had to play out our itinerary beforehand to make sure we would be able to get around. Getting to Ota from where we live wasn’t a problem at all. From Kita Senju in Tokyo, which is convenient from where we live, we caught the Tobu express train to Ota and got there in about an hour.

Our first destination in the city itself was on another local Tobu train line that connected to Ota Station, but there is only one train an hour. That station is 5 km from Ota Station, so walking was not a desirable option. The bus system also seemed dodgy, which is often the case in towns where large car makers are the main source of employment. Sometimes you can rent bicycles near a station, and they usually cost between ¥1,000 and ¥2,000 for two hours or so, but usually it’s a place that receives a lot of tourists, which doesn’t describe Ota at all.

We considered taking a taxi and estimated that the first leg of our trip would cost at least ¥3,000. When we were finished with our research at that location, we would have to call another taxi to take us to our second destination. Of course, when you order a taxi in Japan by phone they tack on an extra fare segment. We figured it might cost ¥5,000 to get to the next place, so that would already be ¥8,000 even before we found a way to get back to Ota Station for the return trip home.

So we decided to rent a choinori (short drive) car and almost accidently came across Eco Rent-a-car, which we’d never heard of but happened to have an office right at Ota Station. Much more interesting than the location, however, was the price: ¥980 for three hours. Was that right? There had to be some sort of catch, even if it was for the smallest model, a mini-car (k-car, in Japanese). You even got a 5 percent discount if you reserved online, so we did. Naturally, all the cars Eco provides, including an electric model, are made by Subaru.

CONTINUE READING about Eco Rent-a-car →

Option to owning

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

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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