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Trend: Japanese Rent Vehicles Not to Drive but to Use in Unusual Ways

Strange, but true: According to car-sharing service Orix, Japanese customers who rent their vehicles don’t even bother driving them. This was backed up by Times24.Co, a leading automobile sharing service provider with more than a million users. According to its survey, it discovered that some of its customers who rent these vehicles don’t even drive them, but instead use them for unusually practical purposes that require space–or even storage.

“Practicality in Wheels”

The company’s survey revealed that these renters use these rented vehicles as a “napping” space or even as an office. Some would use their vehicles to store their extra belongings when storage space is limited.

“I rented a car to eat a boxed meal that I bought at a convenience store because I couldn’t find anywhere else to have lunch,” said a 31-year-old male company employee who lives in Saitama Prefecture, close to Tokyo. “Usually the only place I can take a nap while visiting my clients is a cybercafe in front of the station, but renting a car to sleep in is just a few hundred yen (several dollars), almost the same as staying in the cybercafe.”

Oddly enough, the study also revealed that some customers used the vehicles to their recharge mobile phones after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Increasing Trend

According to Asahi.com, NTT Docom Inc. did a survey in 2018 and found out that “one out of every eight users rented automobiles for purposes other than transportation.” And of those surveyed, the main reason was to sleep or rest in their vehicles. Other reasons also cited were to talk to friends, family, and clients on the phone.

Perhaps the reason why this trend is booming can be traced to the increasingly limited space that the Japanese are experiencing, especially in the cities. “No space” can mean “lack of privacy,” and privacy is something that’s important to many Japanese.

“Cars can be used for private space,” said the NTT Docomo official in charge of the study. “People used our vehicles in more ways than we expected.”

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