The smart car rental service, which is operated by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai via apps such as ekar and Udrive, completed as many as 377,873 journeys in the first six months of this year, marking an increase of as much as 103% over the figures from the corresponding time period in 2018, which recorded just 185,501 journeys in comparison.
ekar and Udrive smart app users are able to rent vehicles for as long as six hours in total without the requirement for personal intervention by another human being, either at the time they receive the car or when the time comes for them to give it back. Forty-five locations all over Dubai have been designated for the services by the RTA, including at a number of important Dubai Metro stations, such as Rashidiya, Burjuman, Ibn Battuta, Union and Business Bay.
The smart rental service is currently only available in Dubai, and residents of the United Arab Emirates need to sign up to the two apps in order to be able to benefit from the service. To register, UAE citizens are required to provide details of their Emirates ID as well as a personal photograph, driving licence and credit card. Applicants will also need to keep their Emirates ID on their person for the purposes of verification when they take possession of the vehicle and enter their passport, driving licence, credit card and entry visa details. In order to start the rented car, the user will have to enter their personal ID number into the device that is fitted to the vehicle, and then sign off from the service and lock up the car via the app after the rental period has expired. The bill is then forwarded to the renter via email.
The RTA’s Public Transport Agency Director of Planning and Business Development Adel Shakri says that the speedy growth of the service is an indication of how appealing the general public finds it due to it saving both time and effort and reducing the difficulty of finding a mode of transit at short notice.
Shakri adds that in 2018, the increasing demand for the service prompted the RTA to double the number of cars that were in use from 200 to 400. The director also noted that there are a number of benefits associated with making use of the smart rental car service, including free RTA parking, free insurance, and free fuel from Adnoc and Eppco petrol stations. When parking the vehicle after the rental period has expired anywhere in Dubai, the rental rate is just 50 fils per minute and as low as 40 fils per minute when the car is taken back to the parking point where it began its journey.
While car insurance may be free when using the rental service, it is important for anyone who owns or drives any other kind of vehicle to ensure that their car insurance is up to date.