Survey Reveals Japanese People’s Creative Uses for Rental Cars

There's a trend of customers returning rental cars with zero mileage on the clock. So what exactly are they using them for?

By 2 min read

Have you ever arrived at an event just to find that there are no more storage lockers? Or desperately wanted a place to practice your sick rap skills in private?

Japan has the answer: Just rent a car!

According to an article published on July 4 by Asahi Shimbun, 1 in 8 customers of popular car-sharing firm Orix Auto Corp use their rental cars for something completely unrelated to driving.

Answers to a survey conducted by NTT Docomo revealed exactly what these unorthodox car renters were doing with their cars.

The survey results show that naps took the No. 1 spot—hardly a surprise considering that 93.7% of Japanese adults over 20 are dissatisfied with the amount of sleep they get, according to data published by health goods brand Fujiiryoki.

In second and third place was making private and work calls respectively, suggesting that rental cars are the telephone boxes of the modern age.

Fourth place went to people just wanting a respite from the elements in Japan’s sweltering summers and biting cold winters.

As we continue down the line of unconventional rental car uses, a few of them stick out in particular, including 12% of people who used them to change into Halloween costumes, another 12% who used them to take selfies, 8% who used them to do exercises to make their faces smaller (seen as a sign of beauty in Japan), and a surprisingly high 6% who used them to practice rapping.

In actual fact, this is nothing new. Back in 2013, blogger ta26on made a post on using a rental car instead of a locker to house his things while he went to a concert. It seems that many followed in his path and now “locker substitute” represents over a quarter of non-driving rental car use.

With rental cars costing as low as ¥400 for 30 minutes and the ease with which you can book them nowadays using smartphone apps, it’s no wonder Japanese people turn to them for needs other than getting from A to B. However, with the negative effect these unorthodox uses have on both the cars and the environment, companies are starting to charge extra on rental cars that return with little to no mileage on them.

Might we be seeing some alternative service in the future offering cheap rates and easy booking for private spaces? Nescafe did just open their very own sleep cafe. We wonder what will be next!

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