We haven’t bought a car yet. Though our handy location between Business Bay and Downtown Dubai means we can get around easily, occasionally, it’s easier to have your own set of wheels. Today, we decided to give Ekar – a fantastic on demand car rental service – a go. We were pleasantly surprised at how easy the experience was!
Ekar offers a range of cars throughout Dubai – but mainly near the metro stations – which you can register for, pick up and drive away in. High numbers of cars have been spied near Rashidiya, Burjuman, Ibn Battuta, Union, and Business Bay metro stations. You can return the car to where you picked it up, or drop the car back to a different location – as long as it’s an A, B, C or D designated RTA parking area (and accessible by the public).
Using a smart phone application, you can identify whether there are any cars nearby. If so, great! You can book a car for a maximum of six hours. If you already have a booking and need to extend it, this can be done from the application, too. Just don’t go over six hours, or you will be charged a hefty 350AED fine.
So how does it work? You need to sign up online for Ekar, or using your phone. The website or application will ask you to provide scans of your Emirates ID and UAE drivers license, and potentially your expat drivers license. You will also need to send in a selfie with you holding at least one form of ID. I was approved in less than four hours. You can then book a car using your phone. Once you find your car, open the application on your phone. You will be given a pin code when you sign up, which you must use the first time you access a car. Insert the pin, take out the keys from the reader, and you are ready to roll. Just make sure to register – via the application – any damages or lack of cleanliness you note in the vehicle, to make sure you are not charged for them.
You can see the amount of petrol in each car from the application, and if a car gets to less than a quarter of a tank of gas, you will be fined if you don’t refill it. Ekars all have VIP fuel tags, which means you can go to any Enoc or Eppco and they will fill up the car for no charge. You will also get 20 minutes of free drive time, to thank you for your effort! If you drive further than 200km in a single booking, it will also incur a charge of 50fils per kilometre.
So, what does it cost? Originally, Ekar was only rentable by the hour. Now, however, this has changed – you can rent in fifteen-minute blocks. It costs 7.5AED per 15 minutes, or 30AED per hour. Including petrol and parking, this is a pretty sweet deal. There is also now no monthly membership cost – it now costs only 1AED to register. There doesn’t seem to be any additional cost to drop the car somewhere else than where you started.
Overall, our experience was very simple, the car was in excellent condition, and we didn’t run into any unexpected issues. We were impressed with the ease of use of the application, and the availability of vehicles. It looks like a fantastic service – one we will surely use again!