According to SK Group, Chey appeared in the parking lot of the headquarters building with Socar officials. After riding a Kia Ray for 10 minutes, attracting some attention, he was instructed on how to operate the Socar vehicle. After observing the exterior as well as interior features, Chey inquired with Socar officials on how to reserve Socar vehicles through mobile a application.
Officials at Socar, which ranks first in the Korean car sharing industry, commented that the demonstration session occurred at the request of SK Group.
Car sharing is a new membership-based service that offers the use of a vehicle for a short period of time, and is part of the trend towards ‘sharing economy’ services in Korea.
According to App Annie’s Retrospective 2015 report, the usage of car sharing applications is on the rise in both advanced and developing markets, reflecting the new trend.
Although not yet mature, the car sharing market in Korea is showing rapid growth, especially in large cities and among consumers in their 20s and 30s. According to data from the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the number of Socar members showed an explosive increase from 40,000 members in 2013 to 1.35 million members last year.
The government seems to be in favor of the idea. The Korean economic journal Money Today reported that the government will come up with policies to address some of the problems facing car sharing businesses, and expand the market. Asia Economy, another Korean journal, reported that car sharing businesses such as Socar have high expectations of lowered government restrictions in the future.
Chey is also known to have had an interest in the car sharing business for some time.
SK purchased a 20 percent stake in Socar in November 2015 for 59 billion won. SK Networks also signed a business partnership agreement with Socar to cooperate on vehicle maintenance. The two companies are said to be collaborating on other projects, with some expecting the launch of new services as part of the partnership.
SK is thought to be a promising candidate in the car sharing business due to its ownership of affiliates such as SK Networks and SK Innovation, which could be used in car sharing businesses.
By Francine Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)