Market Snapshots of Japan and Australia

A look into the car rental industry in Japan and Australia.

Market Snapshot - Japan

Times Mobility Networks Co., Ltd. (MAZDA Rent-A-Car)

Established in 1965, MAZDA Car Rental Corp. was sold by Mazda Motor Corp. in 2004 to an investment company, which in turn sold it to Park24 Co., Ltd., a publicly traded car park company on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. This year, Park24 transferred the car sharing operation to Times 24 Co., Ltd., a new subsidiary. Park24 also changed the official name of MAZDA Car Rental Corp. to Times Mobility Networks Co., Ltd. (TMN) though the car rental service continues to use the brand name MAZDA Rent-A-Car.

  • Total locations (May 2011): 439
  • Airport: 53, Local: 386
  • Corporate stores: 192, Franchisee locations: 247, Fleet size: rental car: 21,975, car sharing: 2,260
  • Breakdown of business: Leisure: 30%, corporate: 35%, replacements: 20%, tour: 10%, other: 5%
  • Car Procurement method: Purchase and lease. There are no buyback programs in Japan.   
  • Average hold times: N/A. (General averages in Japan: small, intermediate: 24 months, luxury: 36 months)
  • Popular rental models: subcompact Mazda Demio (Mazda2)
  • Primary ancillary sales: Child seat, CDW
  • Primary remarketing channel: auction
  • Recession impact: Shorter rental days, and a move toward car sharing to cut personal spending. Times 24 Co., Ltd.'s car sharing system offers rentals in 15-minute increments.
  • Business boost: As part of a government tourism campaign, visitors from overseas countries, especially from Asia, are increasing and are renting cars during their trips. Japanese car rental companies have referral contracts with overseas car rental companies and travel agents that funnel customers through these networks. TMN began an affiliation with Europcar in 2006 to strengthen its inbound business.
  • Business hassle 1: Car rental companies must manage the fact that driving is only allowed for overseas tourists with driver's licenses issued through the Geneva Agreements.
  • Business hassle 2: Per a revision of traffic law in 2006, car rental companies must pay parking violation fines incurred by renters. Car rental companies closely monitor violations and train rental agents on how to mitigate violations.
  • Environmental initiative: TMN is presently testing six Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric cars in its car sharing fleet.
  • Environmental initiative 2: As of April 2004, all Japanese car owners, including car rental companies, receive a tax break for buying a more environmentally friendly car.

This has resulted in a car rental fleet of smaller vehicles, though it is also based on customer demand for smaller vehicles.

An industry deals with disaster

In the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, Japanese car rental companies are not only suffering supply issues, they must rebuild infrastructure and assist in the relief effort, according to the Japanese Car Rental Association.

The Association reports that car rental companies are having difficulties in meeting customer demand. The rental car supply is worsening into the beginning of the summer season due to the lack of supply of new cars. To help meet demand, car rental companies are keeping cars that they would have sold.

Because of the disaster, normal seasonal car rental demand has dropped, though car rental companies are supplying cars in the disaster area for reconstruction efforts.

Park24 Co. Ltd., owners of TMN, reported heavy tsunami damage to its locations in Ishinomaki and the Sendai Airport, though the company reported no employee casualties.

CONTINUED:  Market Snapshots of Japan and Australia
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