First launched in 2011 in Jeju Island, South Korea, Socar is a mobile app-based car-sharing programme which operates with a fleet of almost 9,000 cars, over 3,000 parking zones and 81 cities in the southern part of the country.

Now in Malaysia, the car-sharing app kicks off operations in Malaysia, with 240 cars available for use from 100 pick-up points across Kuala Lumpur. Currently, the line-up of cars is comprised of the Perodua Axia and the Honda City at a 30% split each, with the Honda HR-V and the MINI Cooper making up the remaining 40% of the available fleet.

Hourly pricing for the Socar programme is as follows: the Perodua Axia goes for RM8 per hour on weekdays and RM11 per hour on weekends, the Honda City at RM9.90 on weekdays and RM15.90 on weekends, the Honda HR-V at RM18.90 on weekdays and RM25 on weekends, and the MINI Cooper goes for RM25 on weekdays and RM30 on weekends (prices exclude GST).

To use, download the iOS or Android app from the App Store and Play Store respectively, and sign in. Details required are identification (NRIC or passport) and a valid drivers licence, which are to be submitted by uploading respective images of each. An image of the user is also required to verify that the document holder and app user are the same person.

Once the account is verified via SMS, bookings can then be made. Users can then head to a Socar zone where the vehicles will be located, and once pictures of the car are taken and uploaded to verify the condition of said vehicle, the user can be on his or her way.

There is also the door-to-door delivery service for added flexibility, where users can have the Socar vehicle delivered to their desired pick-up points and subsequently for their drop-off location of choice. An additional RM5 will be charged for this service, and is currently limited to the Bangsar and Damansara Heights areas.

The Socar Stress-free Pass is also available for those who want to use the service overnight on weekdays. Available Mondays to Thursdays from 7pm to 8am, the cars that can be hired out for the duration are the Perodua Axia, Honda City and Honda HR-V at RM28, RM37 and RM69 respectively.

Duration of hire can be from 30 minutes up to two to four weeks, the upper limit depending on demand and therefore supply. CEO of Socar Malaysia Leon Foong says that the vast majority of users thus far have been found to use Socar vehicles for round trips lasting a few hours. Times of higher demand, such as in the coming Chinese New Year season, will see the limit reduced to aid supply.

Fuel usage is covered by a fuel card provided within each Socar vehicle, with fuel costs included in the initial fee paid for the duration booked, for a mileage rate of 30 km per hour. Any distance covered beyond that will be subject to a charge of 25 sen per km. For the booked duration however, fuel card usage is unlimited.

Should tolled roads be used, SmartTAGs or Touch ‘n Go cards are not included, and therefore is a bring-your-own arrangement. Payment is via the Braintree payment gateway, and will support both debit and credit cards. Insurance includes comprehensive coverage as well as personal accident, provided by Allianz and Liberty Insurance.

Future plans include fleet expansion to 1,000 cars in the next 12 months, and to 10,000 cars by 2020. The company’s future plans will include seven-seaters as well, although makes and models are yet to be confirmed. Growth of pick-up and return locations are on the cards too, though subject to incoming data and user feedback; likely growth areas are the Subang Jaya and Sunway regions, Foong says.

What do you think of Socar, dear readers? Might this tempt you away from the now-familiar selection of ride-sharing apps, particularly if you prefer to drive rather than be driven?