ASTANA – Car sharing has sprung up in many countries, including Kazakhstan. With access to a fleet of vehicles on an as-needed basis, Almaty residents gain the benefits of private cars without the costs and responsibilities of ownership.
“[Having one’s] own car has one real advantage: it is parked very close to where its owner lives or works. The owner can use it any time. Basically, car sharing provides the same flexibility and advantages as car ownership. Also, a car sharing user doesn’t need to purchase a car and pay the corresponding expenses,” said Doscar car sharing company director Assylbek Yessenov in a Jan. 20 interview.
Car sharing is positioned as a replacement for personal or corporate vehicles. Its main benefit is dividing the fixed costs of maintenance among the many members of a car sharing club, while an individual owner is responsible for all costs. Car sharing also contributes to environment protection, as people use one vehicle instead of their own cars.
The programme benefits those who drive fewer than 13,000-15,000 kilometres per year, noted Yessenov.
“Some of our clients often use our services when there are two drivers in a family using one car. Therefore, in some cases when they need to use two cars, one spouse gets one of our cars. Also, some of our clients use our cars when their own cars are being repaired,” he said.
Car sharing is not suitable for those who drive more than 15,000 kilometres annually, he added. Studies show those who use the service share cars more responsibly, carefully plan their trips and begin travelling less than if using their own cars.
“We decided to establish a car sharing company in Almaty in October 2014. But unfortunately, preparation took some time and we only started to work in February 2016. We are going to expand our business and Astana will be the first city where the company will open the next office,” he said.
Traditional car rental differs from car sharing because the latter offers greater ease of use, he added. The terms of lease are 30 minutes or more compared to car rental calculated in days.
Car sharing offers fast booking. Doscar can reserve a vehicle in a few seconds through the mobile app and clients need not go to the office each time to get a car.
Vehicles are also conveniently located, as they are parked in different parts of the city and can be chosen and used immediately. A virtual key on a mobile phone works for all cars. There is no need to return the vehicle with a full tank of gas – leaving at least a quarter tank is sufficient.
Yessenov noted the company faces two main challenges: Almaty residents don’t know about its services and the city administration doesn’t support car sharing companies. He feels the city should help them because they contribute to its environment protection.