/ 8 April 2024

Revolutionising mobility in SA

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Tarlen Carshare, a car-sharing platform, recently launched its services in the Western Cape, introducing a revolutionary concept to the South African market.

Described by Tarlen Carshare founder Charles Aruya as the Airbnb of transportation, the platform enables individuals to generate income from their vehicles by renting them out to potential users, thus providing a flexible and convenient solution for both car owners and renters alike.

The process is simple: users download the app onto their mobile phones, provide the requested information and can then either rent a car or make their car available to potential renters.

Aruya says: “Currently this service is only available in the Western Cape, but we plan to expand to all of the major cities in South Africa before the end of 2024. We require a critical number of cars in each city to make it a viable business model to properly service renters in that city, and we’re currently focusing on this.”

Benefits for car owners

The majority of car owners drive to work and back, and their cars sit idle most of the time. Car-sharing allows them to make money from their cars while they’re not using them. “This is especially useful to people struggling to keep up with their car repayments,” says Aruya, “when you consider that as many as 7 000 cars are repossessed every month in South Africa. The platform also provides entrepreneurs with the opportunity to create a scalable business by acquiring additional cars to rent out.”

Benefits to renters

Traditional car rental companies are quite expensive. With car-sharing, renters could save between 20% and 30% on rental fees just by renting directly from private owners. There’s also the convenience factor. A traveller, whether it be business or vacation, who needs easy access to a car, can get it delivered for a small fee.

What is car-sharing?

The platform: Tarlen Carshare operates as a user-friendly platform where car owners can list their vehicles for rent. The platform also allows individuals to rent cars directly from private owners. Potential renters can browse a catalogue of cars, sign up, rent a car, pick it up and return it – or have it delivered to them. He says: “This platform does two things really well: it simplifies the rental process, making it more accessible; and it typically costs less than renting from a traditional car rental company.”

Car owners are given autonomy over how they share the car, the price they want to ask and how long they want to make the car available.

Security and verification: Before onboarding vehicles onto the platform, Tarlen Carshare ensures stringent security checks and verifies the identity of potential renters, guaranteeing a safe and secure transaction process for all parties involved.

Partnerships: Tarlen Carshare collaborates with partners in the security, verification, roadside assistance and insurance sectors to ensure a hassle-free and streamlined car-sharing process for both car owners and renters

The most important partnership is with Auto & General, to provide insurance for every car on the platform. This guarantees that no matter what happens to the car when it’s rented out through the platform, it’s covered.

Two other important partnerships provide background checks on users of the platform. Smile Identity verifies user identification, while Experian runs additional background checks. “We verify the validity of information provided through multiple sources, doing a multipoint background check.”

Cars listed on the platform must comply with several eligibility criteria. The vehicle’s registration details are verified through brokers through different sources and tracking device information is obtained. Vehicles that don’t have tracking devices are fitted with one – this is non-negotiable, says Aruya. “In addition, the car may not be older than 20 years or have more than 200 000km on its odometer.”

A global perspective: Car-sharing has proven successful elsewhere in the world, with companies like Turo and Getaround in the USA boasting a strong network of car-sharing services. Additionally, ride-sharing platforms like Uber are starting to make significant strides in the car-sharing space.

Aruya explains: “We’ve taken lessons from these and other international (and local) businesses and applied them to our local offering. We’ve also looked at user reviews and used that to tailor our offering accordingly. We looked at car-sharing through a South African lens to see how we can deploy it in a way that works for local users.”

Overcoming obstacles: While Tarlen Carshare has received a warm reception in South Africa, there have been obstacles to overcome, including the need for education about the concept of car-sharing and the saturation of cities with enough vehicles to make the service viable.

“Many individuals still find the notion of sharing their vehicles unfamiliar and may require clarification on how it works and its benefits. It’s crucial to differentiate car-sharing from ride-sharing services like Uber or Bolt. Unlike ride-sharing, where individuals pay for individual trips, car-sharing allows users to rent vehicles for longer durations, providing greater flexibility and autonomy,” explains Aruya.

“Because it’s a new technology, we’re having to constantly refine it, learning from experiences as we figure out what works for South African users and implementing that.

“There was a time when people couldn’t wrap their heads around Airbnb and the concept of sharing parts of their homes with strangers. The same applies to car-sharing.”

Registration process: Registration for both car owners and customers is straightforward, with users simply downloading the Tarlen Carshare app and completing the necessary verification process. Plans to incorporate AI and ML into the app will further enhance the user experience as the platform grows.

He clarifies: “Car owners are referred to as hosts, while car renters are called guests. It’s free to register and there’s no contract period for guests. It’s a simple process, as long as you’re over 21 years old, you submit your name, e-mail address and driver’s licence details. We verify all of that and you’re good to go.”

Security measures: “We get a lot of questions about our security measures. We prioritise security, employing a robust framework called VEIRRE (Verification, Eligibility, Insurance, Ratings and Reviews) to ensure the safety and trustworthiness of the community. All of the information submitted by both parties (hosts and guests) is vetted thoroughly.”

User reviews and ratings contribute to making the community safer and more reliable. He explains, “People who use our platform can leave reviews and rate their experience. These are visible on the user profile so that other users can see that the individual is a trusted member of the community.”

The platform was built on the assumption that people are inherently good and that if you give humans the opportunity, they will prove that. “The connection and community are important to me. A person is not just renting their car to you, but also inviting you to be part of their story, because their car is part of their story. You become part of a community that shares and cares about one another.”


Tarlen Carshare’s platform represents a paradigm shift in the way South Africans approach mobility, offering a sustainable, convenient and cost-effective solution for both car owners and renters. As the platform continues to evolve and expand, it holds the promise of transforming the urban transportation landscape, one shared car at a time.