- Car rental service Car Next Door is calling on its users to stop "hoarding" cars so they are available for people who may legitimately need them.
- Cofounder and CEO Will Davies told Business Insider Australia booking times have increased from a few hours to up to a week.
- Car subscription service Carly believes more people will be interested in car subscription as they are wary of making big financial commitments like buying a car.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
Aussie vehicle rental company Car Next Door is calling for users to stop "hoarding" cars amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Car Next Door co-founder and CEO Will Davies told Business Insider Australia that there was little change in demand since around the 9th of March. But from the week beginning the 23rd of March, there was a 30% drop in demand due to the onslaught of travel restrictions.
However, Davies added that while most bookings would usually be for a few hours to a day, many are now being taken for as long as a week. And as a result, Car Next Door is calling on its users to stop "hoarding" vehicles to allow greater access.
"What we're seeing over the last few weeks is pretty close to 20% of our bookings are now two days or more, and quite a few of them are week-long bookings," he said.
The company did a survey on people who used its service over the past week and the reasons ranged from needing to travel to a supermarket further away to get items they needed and medical professionals who need to get to their shifts.
"[For] a lot of these trips, our users used to be able to take on public transport," he said. "Now 75% of our users are using public transport less."
Chris Noone, CEO and Director of Collaborate Corporation – the parent company of car subscription service Carly and car rental service Drive My Car – said that while there has been some "volatility", demand for Carly vehicles "is still positive".
"People are continuing to sign up for car subscriptions and we believe that more people will be interested in the future as they will be wary of making a long term financial commitments - such as buying a car or taking a loan or lease," he told Business Insider Australia via email.
In a statement, Collaborate Corporation said there hasn't been an increase in the rate of cancellations on its services.
"Since the launch of rideshare rentals and Carly car subscription, focus has been shifting away from the highly competitive travel-related car rental market, so the recently imposed travel restrictions are expected to have a limited impact on revenue and bookings in the near term," the company said.
Noone, however, noticed a similar trend in the types of people using Carly, mainly those who want to bypass public transport.
"We are seeing an upswing in people who are avoiding public transport & taxis and also those who were previously looking to buy a car," he said.
Noone added that Carly subscription periods have been "trending upwards for a while" and the company is seeing this continue.
For Car Next Door, those who are "hoarding" these cars present a challenge for others who need them.
"The issue that we've got is that you can have two people booking a car for an extended period of time," Davies said. "One of those people, the booking could be completely legitimate for them to book it for that period of time. And then another person who booked it for exactly the same period of time, and they're just keeping it for their own use."
Davies said this issue isn't an easy problem to solve. "This is not even a problem we were thinking of a week or so ago," he said.
Davies called for users to think carefully about whether they need to book the vehicles for a long period of time and consider people who really need them as well for essential trips.
"We want to continue to provide a service where people who need a car can get a car easily," he said. "And the best way for us to do that is for people to take and to pay what for what they need.
"If you know that the car is gonna be sitting around for a day or two in between, just book it twice instead of booking at once for a very long period."
The onus is on the driver to ensure the cars are safe from coronavirus
Carly vehicles are quarantined if a driver thinks they have symptoms of the coronavirus.
"We have strict sanitising procedures and if a driver or passenger suspects having any symptoms we also quarantine the vehicle for a period of time," Noone said.
Car Next Door users, however, are responsible for cleaning the parts of the car they touch, whether it's the steering wheel, doorknobs, the handbrake or gearstick.
Davies likened this practice to how you would treat any other public surface you may come into contact with like a sidewalk sign.
"Borrowers are told that they need to bring the equipment to be able to sterilise it or gloves themselves," he said. "Don't rely on anyone else having sterilised it for you."