Car2Go may come to Korea soon

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Car2Go may come to Korea soon

Car2Go, a car-sharing company under German automotive giant Daimler Group, may soon enter the Korean market, sensing an opportunity in the country’s still-burgeoning car-sharing industry.

According to industry sources Tuesday, Daimler Group has been doing market research on Korea’s car-sharing industry to find the right time to introduce its Car2Go service.

“Market research has been going on,” said an industry insider.

If Car2Go launches in Korea, it would be the first car-sharing service launched by a foreign carmaker in Korea. Rival BMW Korea said Tuesday that it has no plan to launch its own car-sharing services, DriveNow and ReachNow, in Korea.

Korea’s car-sharing industry is still at its early stages. There are no dominant companies yet, and barriers to entry and competition have not reached a high level yet.

But global carmakers agree that the car-sharing industry will only continue to grow, which is why companies are rushing to start their own services or invest in car-sharing start-ups.

Hyundai Motor started its own car-sharing service called Deal Car last year, following Kia Motors’ WiBLE which launched earlier.

In Korea, the top player is Socar. The company recently announced that it has more than 10,000 cars under its fleet, six years after it first launched its service in 2012 with 100 cars. Green Car, the No. 2 company, has about 6,000 vehicles.

Daimler’s Car2Go is similar to other car-sharing companies in Korea, though it counts time used based on minutes whereas Socar and other Korean car-sharing companies use 10-minute intervals.

Car2Go started out by renting electric Smart cars, but now offers a diverse array of Mercedes models, including the A and B-Class and GLA and CLA models.

Car2Go was first introduced in 2008 and now operates in select European countries, the United States and China. The Chinese city of Chongqing had the largest number of Car2Go members last year. Car2Go said it grew by 30 percent last year over 2016 and had more than 3 million members.

“The entry barrier and related regulations of Korea’s car-sharing industry are complex and challenging,” said an industry insider. “But Korea has lots of room to grow in the sector.”

According to SoCar, Korea’s car-sharing industry is currently worth 320 billion won ($284 million), and is expected to grow to 500 billion won by 2020.

Volvo Korea also said it is considering launching its car-sharing service M in Korea.

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