Written by Kevin Wong
Most of us, Malaysians, are highly dependent on our personally-owned vehicles to get us around be it for work or leisure.
From time-to-time, we would use the public transportation (MRT and LRT) and e-hailing services when we want to avoid driving or to escape the struggle to find parking or and to avoid our infamous traffic jams (yes, we all know the struggle is real).
However, public transportation does not operate 24 hours while getting e-hailing services, especially late at night or in the wee hours of the morning can be almost impossible.
What about taxis you may ask? We would think twice, won’t we?
On top of this, it has become more difficult to afford and own a car with the increasing cost of living. (If you already have your car, don’t stop reading. There’s something in it for you too.)
So, how do we solve this dilemma? Don’t fret as SOCAR is here in Malaysia for us to utilise.
What is SOCAR, you ask? Let Leon Foong, SOCAR CEO, tell you in this exclusive interview with TechsideTale.
TST: So, do tell us what is SOCAR all about?
Leon: SOCAR is an application which enables people to book a car at any of our zones and locations from a duration 30 minutes up to a month.
It is a car-sharing app where we own and fully operate all the vehicles which are distributed across 450 locations in Malaysia and everything is easily controlled through the mobile app – to locate, unlock and lock the car and to start the car.
TST: How car-sharing apps like SOCAR will appeal to Malaysians?
Leon:Unlike public transportation, SOCAR is available 24 hours making it convenient for Malaysians.
Additionally, we started to observe that more Malaysians are starting to have a multiflex behaviour – this means that commuters are moving away from private-owned vehicles and have started using alternative options such as MRT and LRT, buses, e-hailing and car-sharing to get to their destinations.
Using car-sharing makes more economical sense, especially for those who hardly drive while for Malaysians who are into cars, they can drive a different a car each week as we have more than 12 different variants of vehicle on our platform.
That said, our main target audience are for those who appreciate convenience, the affordability of being a multiflexer and those who wants to save cost of owning and maintaining a vehicle.
Malaysians can save a lot of money as they won’t need to pay for instalments, insurance and maintenance.
So, instead of owning a car, why not use car-sharing as your mode of transportation?
TST: Having that said, what makes SOCAR to stand out among its competitors?
Leon: Our locations and technology are our key value propositions. As mentioned earlier, we have 450 locations ranging from LRT and MRT stations as well as popular shopping malls.
Therefore, we have the best locations, at the same time, the technology we use is the most seamless as we are using a keyless system to activate our cars.
Also, we do offer other services which include a one-way drop off service to Kuala Lumpur International Airport – where you pick up one of our cars and drop it off at the airport.
TST: How would a user get to one of the cars?
Leon: In most areas, users will need to go to our designated locations to pick up the cars. However, in areas such as Bangsar, Mont Kiara and some spots in Petaling Jaya, we provide door-to-door delivery. That said, we are in the process of scaling up our door-to-door cover more areas.
TST: Could you share what is the technology behind SOCAR and how does it work?
Leon: The technology behind SOCAR is basically a machine-to-machine (M2M) technology where each car is equipped with a car securing agent (technically a blackbox) which is plugged into the canvas system of the vehicle.
Through the canvas system, we can track the telematics as well as send a series of commands to the car. This would help check the location, battery level, engine level (whether it is on or off), etc.
TST: What is the main challenge you faced being somewhat a new service here in Malaysia?
Leon: Initially, the main challenge was about education the public about what car-sharing was. However, over the past 11 months, that has evolved and we now have 175,000 users, and we are seeing more people starting to be familiar with the platform.
Currently, our main struggle is to get more cars out there as the demand is growing. Right now, we have 850 cars active and deployed, and we will be deploying another 150 more by the end of the year.
TST: What is the pipeline for SOCAR in 2019?
Leon: In 2019, we aim to have 3,000 vehicles and expand our geographic presence in the country. We are setting up our hubs in Malaysia’s central areas – Klang Valley, a southern hub in Johor and soon one in the norther region.
In addition, we are exploring to new business models when it comes to shared mobility in Malaysia.
So, why not give SOCAR a try! As a great incentive, you will receive 2 complimentary hours in a SOCAR vehicle.
You may sign up here or download the app on Google Play Store or Apple App Store.