THE TIMING COULDN’T have been more fortuitous for TREVO, a peer-to-peer car sharing platform. A subsidiary of SOCAR, TREVO was launched in February in the Klang Valley, and it is becoming popular in Penang.
It employs a sharing economy model, much like AirBnB in home sharing, that encourages people to optimise the benefit of car ownership while presenting Penangites the opportunity to recover some semblance of financial stability.
But how is the platform to complement the state’s mobility ecosystem? “Penang is a unique market – its position as a robust commercial and tourism hotspot generates large volumes of travelling daily,” says general manager Susan Teoh.
“With interstate travelling now permitted, Penang has become one of the most sought-after locations for Malaysians at large to visit, while Penangites may now fancy a short vacation out of state. TREVO facilitates this by providing hosts an opportunity to gain leverage through sharing their cars and earning extra income, as well as its guests the liberty of travelling as affordably and conveniently as possible, without needing to purchase a new car or spend on vehicle maintenance,” adds head of expansion Brandon S. Curson.
Adopting the tagline “A Car For Every Occasion”, a wide variety of cars (over 30 brands and 100 models), ranging from a Myvi to a Rolls-Royce are offered on the app. “We welcome all types of cars onto the platform, as this accounts for the affordability of vehicles as well as the range of options that caters to different priorities and needs, be it a big family trip or a solo getaway. We want our users to not just own the car, but also own the ride.”
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A total of 234 cars have since signed up on TREVO, with over 5,000 users and 1,250 bookings. “In entering the Penang market, we want to empower companies and people to seize the opportunity, improve mobility and invigorate the economy amid the Covid-19 hardship,” he says.
Scouting Out Potential Hosts and Guests
TREVO looks for prospective hosts either by “having them come to us directly or through identifying them from classified advertisements and contacting them to encourage their onboarding. In Penang specifically, we give hosts an incentive of up to RM650 to create their very first trips on their vehicles. They just need to download the TREVO app, sign up and wait for their accounts to be verified within 24 hours.
“We make sure their car grants, car ownership documents and road tax documents are valid and up to date to ensure all listed vehicles are safe to be driven on the road. After that, they upload the required information on their cars, submit photos as well as customise their availability, delivery options and other relevant details, all of which guests will consider when selecting their cars for booking. We also provide protocol training for these hosts to properly onboard their cars,” Curson explains.
General Manager Susan Teoh and Head of Expansion Brandon S. Curson.
Guests in turn also download the app, sign up and follow the procedure of submitting photos of their driving license for verification. Verified guests can then search for cars of their choice. “Most excitingly in Penang, we have launched the ‘Hello Penang’ promotion, where first-time users can enjoy a booking experience of any type of car for 24 hours – even a Mercedes – for only RM10! Additional promotions include a 50% discount (of up to RM500) on their second trip.”
Enhancing the User Experience
Given the Covid-19 situation, TREVO enforces contactless onboarding. Hosts can either list their vehicles personally from their own homes, or come to select locations (e.g. Tesco E-gate) for specialists to assist them with the onboarding of their vehicles.
“Most importantly, we implemented SOPs to address the hygiene concerns of the populace and heighten convenience when using the app. For instance, we give out travel care kits (containing sanitisers, masks, gloves and alcohol swabs) and designate custodian teams to assist in car inspection, sanitising and delivery,” says Teoh. GPS tracking is also installed in all vehicles to identify their locations should that become necessary.
TREVO adopts the trust and safety policy of its mother company SOCAR; guests are protected under the TREVO 24/7 Roadside Assistance support. “In the event of a vehicle breakdown, they can contact us, and we will mobilise our team to facilitate the towing process to local car maintenance businesses geared towards these emergency situations. We also have additional insurance protection for our hosts, and TREVO will assist with the subsequent police reporting and insurance claims.”
Ernest Mah is currently pursuing his Master’s in English Language Studies at Universiti Malaya. A member of the varsity debating team, he loves singing, enjoys speaking and writing, and dreams of becoming the Malaysian Ryan Seacrest.