iCarsclub is an online marketplace that allows car owners to monetize their “free” car time through its car sharing scheme. Drivers who want to rent out their car when it’s free can do so, and those in need of a car nearby can find one. The platform creates a win-win situation by both lowering the costs of owning a car for owners, and rentees can also have the luxury of driving a car when the occasion arises without shouldering the burden of owning one. The team also has a hardware system in place, called iCarBox, which enables keyless entry. Car rentees will be able to unlock the cars using their smartphones and start driving. With this keyless entry system, it aims to enhance the rental experience. Taking full advantage of the benefits of mobile, it allows users to find a car within a small area very easily. Co-founder, Jamie Wang, explains:
Our driving box will be installed in the vehicle and integrated with the locking syste. [It will be able to] receive a lock/unlock signal from our central server to the driving box via SMS or GPRS. So when a user clicks the unlock button on his smartphone, our central server will send the unlock signal to the driving box, and the door will be opened. Then the driver can get into the car and find the ignition key in the compartment and start driving.
So how does iCarsclub monetize? In essence, it takes a fifteen percent cut from each transaction via its in-platform payment support. It also provides insurance coverage for all transactions. Interestingly, whilst everyone else is looking to China for better opportunities, the team is comprised of four mainland Chinese, with qualifications and backgrounds hailing from China’s top Tsinghua University and Baidu. They have chosen to launch their product in Singapore first. Jamie elaborates:
Singapore is the best place to test our our idea because of the high demand on private cars, [coupled with] better trust between people and overall safeness, such as low theft and low accident rates. Once our idea is validated in Singapore and [we have figured the ideal execution method], we can easily replicate our business in other cities similar to Singapore.
The team is indeed looking to expand its operations to China after Singapore, targeting first-tiered cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. The service sounds similar in many ways to YongChe or America's ZipCar. Co-founder Eddy Zhang tells us that iCarsclub is different because it gathers from both private and business car owners, which allows higher flexibility in car model types and at the same time lowers the rates. For those who are keen to try out iCarsclub services, the team currently has discounts and offerings in place if you sign up with them via their site. You can visit them at iCarsClub.com.