Driving in the millennial era is driven by the new hybrid work we’ve grown accustomed to. I’m not a millennial but I have their mindset (at least I like to think so) and now that I’m carless I’ve explored the recent upsurge in ‘pay per minute’ options at the place of conventional car rentals which need you to jump through hoops, deposit funds in advance and have traditionally been the mainstay of large companies in the SME sector for managing their fleet.
In an article that Nicholas Watson, co-founder and CEO of Udrive shared with SME10x earlier this year, “the motivation to own a car has begun to give way to creative leasing models, fractional ownership and other forms of transport on demand”. The global enterprise carsharing market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15.6% from 2021 to 2028.
This is the first one that caught my attention.
Udrive, launched in 2016, promises to make it easy to set up and they’ve got it right. They have options to get a car by the minute – so if you need quick hops you can opt for those on the fly, but if the distance is less than 30 minutes you might be better off taking a taxi. On-the-fly availability, booking and charges are only counted when you start using the car, payment is deducted at the end of the ride. Fuel and Dubai RTA parking (at most parking areas) are included, making it quite maintenance friendly. You have options for daily but you have to look for the tag that says which ones are daily because most Udrives are per minute even though they show daily you don’t have the option to choose on the application.
For me personally, it was a bit of a hassle on the ground, including not finding enough cars around me and not being able to plot the car on the map (especially in the summer heat). Which can be a bit daunting.
You can’t add a second driver (you can with ekar or normal rentals), but Udrive has corporate options where the service uses corporate email to detect the domain name and employees see each other offer credits and options. There are also options to purchase credit packs to distribute through HR and include delivery of the vehicle to head office for use (only available for day rentals).
ekar, launched a year after Udrive, is similar. For me, the advantage was to have the possibility of adding a second driver. For someone like me, there were more daily options in my area, which turned out to be more profitable for me, as I tend to have club meetings together and make the most of daily rental. Daily rentals are long term and do not include fuel while parking is limited only in certain areas.
Also here the app shows daily and minute options for the car, but you cannot choose the option you want.
Like UdriveIIn addition to car-sharing and subscription rental formulas for individuals, ekar also offers “ekar for business” to mobilize employees by offering companies employee package options. Staff can choose to pay by the minute, hour, day, week or month depending on their needs. ekar Mobility OS can optimize existing staff cars, claiming to reduce the total need for cars by 35%, including overall costs and carbon footprint.
Udrive and ekar are not only available in most of the UAE, but have also recently expanded to Saudi Arabia.
While enjoying this ability to use the app to book a car, it was a chance to explore one of my favorite transportation apps, Careem, and try out their new Swapp option. Swapp (I realized this too late) is an aggregator. While setup and registration was easy through the Careem app, approval took a bit of time, as did booking. There is an “extendable” window of “two hours” if you opt for vehicle delivery as they rely on another third party to deliver on that promise. I expected the same level of service (and I have to say Careem support was outstanding in this regard – Swapp not so much). It was stressful and for me – no matter how attractive their offer is – I won’t be going back.
Likewise, Selfdrive is an aggregator and experience with Swapp has put me off aggregators like them. And judging by a few anecdotal experiences, there is slippage between booking with Selfdrive and delivery by third-party rental companies.
There are other options but for my money so far ekar has my custom.