Car sharing is gradually gaining popularity in Japanese cities, according to Japan for Sustainability.
Mazda Car Rental Corp. began expanding its car sharing business throughout Japan in July 2006, following a relaxation of restrictions on unattended service centers. The company plans further expansion of the service throughout Japan.
In Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, the first full-scale car sharing system in a provincial city was launched in November 2006 with the cooperation of Hokuriku Railway Co, a public bus operator, Hokusei Industry Co., a local car sharing operator, the city government and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. One economic benefit is that pre-registered users can earn points that can be used for bus fares.
Orix Auto Corp. started a new service in the spring of 2007 that combines car sharing and car rental services. Vehicles for car sharing will be substantially increased in the Tokyo and Nagoya areas in response to the planned expansion of these services. Focusing on the car sharing service for condominium dwellers, Orix has launched its service at five condominium apartment buildings and plans to offer it at seven more buildings by the end of this year.
Orix reports that at present, member-vehicle ratios range from 15:1 to 20:1. It plans to increase these ratios to around 30:1, an average ratio for European and North American countries that have improved services and growing government support.