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ekar launches contactless peer-to-peer carshare in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH, April 13, 2022

ekar, the Middle East's first and largest personal mobility company, has launched peer-to-peer carsharing in Saudi Arabia. 
 
The company said vehicles previously inspected and installed with a telematics unit or 'health tracker' by the ekar operations team can be instantly activated on its app. Its 270,000 members can then seamlessly book, unlock, and pay for the rental of personally owned vehicles via the ekar app.
 
Unlike traditional peer-to-peer companies, ekar's digital solution removes the host and renter's need to meet in person for the clumsy and often time-consuming 'key handover'. 
 
Also when their personally-owned vehicles are not in use, Saudi 'hosts' can now earn money by renting them out on ekar platform, it stated. 
 
According to eker, its peer-to-peer is entirely contactless. The car keys are safely locked in an otherwise immobilised vehicle, only accessible via the app's direct integration with the vehicle's onboard computer, enabling the hosted car to be unlocked and driven. 
 
Without the app's authentication, cars are locked, totally immobilised, and will not start, thus preventing any unauthorised access or theft. ekar's proprietary AI constantly tracks and analyzes a wealth of data, including location, time, driver information, driver behaviour and scoring, and vehicle identification. Cars are also fully insured should damages occur during or between rentals, it stated.
 
"Ride-hailing companies did an excellent job introducing the gig economy to car owners, allowing them to become chauffeurs and make additional income. ekar hosts, on the other hand, can inject their cars into ekar's platform from the comfort of their couch, and we handle the rest," remarked Vilhelm Hedberg, the founder of ekar. 
 
A car owner can now spend their valuable time on other activities, rather than chauffeuring, and enjoy high yielding passive income on assets they already own," stated Hedberg. 
 
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 270,000 registered members and booked 1.7 million trips. It operates in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Malaysia with plans to further expand into Egypt and Turkey.
 
According to industry experts, peer-to-peer carsharing is poised for explosive growth, gaining popularity in both developed and developing countries and bolstered by the rise of smartphone technology and social networks. 
 
As per a report by Accenture, the number of peer-to-peer carsharing vehicles globally grew from 200,000 in 2015 to more than 440,000 in 2021. That figure is expected to more than double by 2025, to approximately 990,000 vehicles (source).
 
According to eker, there are two distinct peer-to-peer hosting options: short-term and long-term. 
 
Short-term hosts commit cars for a minimum of eight hours, eight days a month from their location of choice, typically outside of a home or office. Bookings can only be terminated in a system-generated geo-fenced area around which the car was initially activated. 
 
This system is a station-based rental, which benefits the host who will want convenient access to their vehicle once completed with its booking. The renter will incur penalties for a car driven for longer than the allotted host's booking time. The average break-even for a vehicle to pay for its monthly cost is nine rentals.
 
Long-term hosts, or 'ekar Entrepreneurs', dedicate their vehicles for a minimum of one month to Riyadh's ekar free-floating carsharing system. These committed cars can enjoy returns as high as 10,000 Riyal per month, depending upon the car type and hosting duration. 
 
All hosts have remote access to ekar Mobility OS, which will provide them with their cars' instant performance and earnings metrics, it added.-TradeArabia News Service



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