Car sharing service in Japan

If you live in Tokyo, you would not need to buy a car. The train network and the bus network are great, you can go to anywhere in Tokyo on trains and/or buses. These public transportation facilities are very safe and very often go and come. When I use trains in Tokyo, I don’t need to check time. Most Tokyo people don’t have a car. The public transportation facilities are too useful. Plus, parking cost is really expensive.

But you can use the “car share” service that “TIMES Car Plus” provides. It has more useful features than “rent car” services. Today, I try to explain about this service in English.

“TIMES” is one of most famous parking area services in Japan. You can find them anywhere in Japan. “TIMES Car Plus” puts each shared car(s) in their each parking areas. A user pays 1,000yen per a month and got the membership card having a IC chip. This is a key to unlock a shared car and 1,000 yen coupon for a month. You can reserve a car in the net. And then you touch a panel of the car you reserved by your membership card. This unlocks the car. After driving, you park the car in the start point and touch the panel again. That’s all. When you make a reservation, start using and return the car, the service send a mail to you. You can also register your destination from the web and the car navigation system of the car receives this information when you start up the car.

The car has the special credit card to pay gas and washing service. If you find that the car you driving doesn’t have gas enough, you can go to a gas stand and use this credit card for payment. You don’t need to use your money to maintain the shared car. The car share service thanks you and discounts 15 minutes immediately. When you washes the car by a car wash service in the specific gas stand, you’re discounted 15 minutes. You can use a shared car of TIMES anywhere in Japan, but you have to return the car to the start point.

The pros of this service:
– In many cases, it’s cheaper than rent car services.
– All reservation procedural goes on the web. Go to the parking where you made a reservation and start driving. There are no receptions.
– You don’t need to think about gas.
– You can reserve a shared car for 4 hours and use it for 2 hours with 2 hours payment. It’s not unlimited. But in most cases, you can reserve a car for a little longer time and drive it slowly and safety.
– You can use your card anywhere. It’s not limited for the specific parking are and/or the specific city.

The cons:
– Rent car services keep their car clean. Shared car depends on users’ moral.
– You can’t smoke in any shared cars.
– Some parking areas doesn’t have a shared car. But you can find it nearby that.
– You can choose the parking are WHERE you make a reservation but can not choose WHAT. Some parking areas have several cars and you can choose your favorite car from them, but other (most) parking areas have a single car. If the parking area near by your home has Mazda-2, you must go to other parking area to use Lexus.

When you start living in Tokyo, you find that it’s difficult to keep a car in Tokyo. But remember this entry.

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6 Responses to Car sharing service in Japan

  1. AlexMcAin says:

    Hi:

    Interesting indeed!. But the trains network its not too crowded?
    About the cars, can anyone use the service even foreigners/visitors? or you need to present some kind of resident card?
    Another thing since I’m writing here, did you read Japanmanship book? it’s says many interesting things about Game Industry in Japan. It would be very nice hear from your experience/opinions too.

    Cheers,

  2. minahito says:

    Thank you for your comment. This service is available for foreigners who have resident card, but I don’t know visitors can use it.

    And thank you for telling me about http://japanmanship.blogspot.jp/. I’m reading it now. That’s interesting!

  3. Graeme says:

    This is interesting. Does the credit card in the cars work on the toll roads, too? Stopping to pay the tolls is めんどくさい。Incidentally, my wife and I are renting a car this weekend for about 8 hours. The rental is around ¥4000. I think that’s pretty good too.

    • minahito says:

      These shared car have credit cards to pay for gas and washing, but don’t have credit cards for the toll road. In Japan, “ETC” is used to pay for the toll road. The shared cars have ETC terminal, but users have to their own ETC card into the terminal.

      ¥4,000 per day is very reasonable! In Japan, the minimum of the cheapest rent car service is ¥2,525. But users have to pay gas fee.

  4. AlexMcAin says:

    ¥4000, it’s cheap I payed ¥75.000 for 4 days the last winter. But was a big car for 6 people.

  5. AJ says:

    Military and Government living in Japan had a hard time obtaining an ETC card. A new service is available to help make this process much smoother for SOFA individuals in Japan.

    http://www.JapanETCcard.com

    Allows customers to pay with their US credit cards for their toll charges.

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