Smartphone-controlled car rental service coming to Honolulu

HONOLULU (AP) — A smartphone-controlled car rental service is coming to Honolulu.

Servco Pacific Inc. and Toyota have partnered to launch the service, which allows users to rent, unlock and turn on vehicles through a mobile application, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday. The plan is to station 20 Toyota Prius vehicles around residential buildings in Kakaako, the companies stated.

The service expedites the process of renting a vehicle for a short period, as users never have to interact with a person to register, reserve and use a vehicle. Registration and background checks are handled through the mobile application, and the smartphone’s Bluetooth connection to the vehicle will start the cars with a digital key. Users, who must be at least 18 years old, will rent and return the vehicle at the same location.

The companies are still working on the brand and expect to announce the name of the service closer to its launch. The date cars will be rolled out depends on when Servco finishes testing the technology.

Casey Nishimura, senior communications and marketing manager for Servco, said the prices are going to be comparable to similar, existing services and rental-car pricing.

“If all goes well, this is going to serve as a model for how other distributors and dealers can roll out a car-share platform in their market,” Nishimura said. “Hawaii is a good test bed for transportation and mobility options . Especially in the Kakaako area, the issues with congestion and parking, (the service) just started to make sense.”

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