Singapore’s booming car-sharing industry faces calls for regulation amidst rising consumer concerns

Singapore’s booming car-sharing industry faces consumer complaints and calls for regulation as it becomes a multi-million-dollar sector, raising concerns about technical glitches, high repair costs, and the need for industry-wide standards.

The car-sharing industry in Singapore has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, evolving into a multi-million-dollar sector. However, its growth is accompanied by a range of challenges, prompting calls for regulation to address issues such as technical glitches, high repair costs, substantial insurance excess, and subpar customer service.

Despite the industry’s drawbacks, some users find car-sharing to be a cost-effective solution, especially in a city where Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices have soared. For individuals who turned to car-sharing after scrapping their vehicle due to high COE prices, it has become a necessity for them to attend to their various responsibilities.

The car-sharing landscape in Singapore has witnessed a boom, with companies like GetGo and Tribeca experiencing significant growth. According to Statista, Singapore’s car-sharing industry is projected to reach $245 million in revenue in 2024, with an expected annual growth rate of 6.23%, reaching $311 million by 2028.

However, the rapid expansion has led to a rise in consumer complaints, prompting the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) to advocate for three major improvements: a mandatory maintenance regime, transparent terms and conditions, and a clear dispute resolution process. While experts acknowledge the need for consumer protection, they also caution against overregulation, as it could potentially raise costs for users.

Car-sharing’s benefits, such as alleviating the financial burden of car ownership, are countered by user grievances ranging from technical glitches to high insurance excess. Users have expressed frustration with customer service response times and unexpected charges, leading some to question the industry’s profit-earning model. Operators like GetGo, Tribecar, and BlueSG are responding to criticisms by emphasizing their commitment to customer service, regular vehicle maintenance, and cleanliness. Despite efforts to address concerns, consumers remain wary, with some advocating for stronger regulations to ensure industry-wide standards.

In 2023, Case received 127 complaints related to the car-sharing industry, reflecting a notable increase from 48 in 2020. Calls for regulation have been met with caution, as industry players, along with some policymakers, emphasize the importance of maintaining a competitive and trustworthy car-sharing sector without excessive government intervention. As Singapore grapples with the balancing act between consumer protection and industry competitiveness, the future of car-sharing remains a topic of debate.