The UAE's car-sharing platform ekar will begin operations in Bangkok in January 2022, a move that will see it expanding within South-East Asia.
The company will expand its services to other cities in Thailand later next year, it said on Sunday.
Ekar will introduce its car subscription service, which offers cars from one to nine months for a single monthly subscription cost with no down payments or long-term commitments via the app in Thailand.
The personal mobility company will also introduce its peer-to-peer car sharing services, which allow people to rent their own cars to the general public, later in 2022.
“Bangkok is an incredibly exciting opportunity, a city with a high smartphone penetration yet limited tech-enabled self-drive mobility options,” said Vilhelm Hedberg, founder of ekar.
“Ekar’s subscription and peer-to-peer car sharing services will allow residents and tourists to have access to affordable four-wheeled mobility, while reducing the overall number of cars on the roads.”
Car-sharing apps that allow customers to rent a vehicle by the hour, or even the minute, have been growing in popularity. The pay-by-use model of car hire saves drivers on costs of insurance, maintenance and car loan repayments.
More consumers are now open to vehicle subscription services, according to a survey of car industry executives conducted by management consultancy McKinsey last year.
Ekar provides users with on-demand access to a network of thousands of vehicles. Since its inception in 2016, ekar has grown from a 15-vehicle pilot programme with Etihad Airways to a multi-country service used by more than 250,000 customers in seven cities across the GCC.
The company operates in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and will introduce the service in Malaysia imminently, with Egypt and Turkey launches scheduled for later in 2022.
All ekar subscription cars, which are technology-enabled vehicles from fleet owners and car rental companies, come with insurance, maintenance and roadside assistance and can be switched, traded up or returned at any time, the company said.
A user can select a desired model on the ekar app and a sterilised car will be delivered to them within a two-hour window.