Japanese rent cars to sleep in?

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Words: Nile Bijoux
18 Jul 2019

Japan is known for having punishing work schedules and it’s pushing citizens to rent vehicles in order to grab some shuteye between shifts.

The habits were revealed after rental company Orix Auto found a number of its 230,000 users were returning their cars with barely any extra kays on the clock. Other rental firms noticed similar trends.

Times24, with more than 1.2 million registered users, asked around and found that some clients napped, worked or even used the vehicles as extra storage space for personal belongings.

One respondent, a worker in his early 30s, was quoted by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper as saying: “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.”

According to the paper, Times24 cars cost as little as 400 yen ($NZ5.50) for half an hour and could be reserved online.

A similar service, NTT Docomo, found in 2018 that one in eight of 400 survey participants did not drive their rented cars, instead using them to sleep in or talk to family, friends or business clients. Some used the space to watch TV and unwind or practise their singing or spoken English.

Orix told the newspaper that it recommended customers only drive their cars and reminded them of the environmental harm caused by leaving engines running.

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