During the Chuseok break we tried the SoCar for the first time. SoCar is a Car Rental / Car Sharing application, designed for short trips generally just for a few hours. Starting with the basics on the SoCar system and moving onto the positives and negatives, here is our experience on using SoCar for the first time.
Before we start please note: This is our personal opinion and nothing was provided by SoCar. Also we’re not SoCar so please don’t message questions directed at them, direct links are listed below.
Quick 2018 Update:
1 – You are required to have held a Korean License of at least 1 year in order to resister.
2 – Payment is now taken when booking, not 10mins prior to the rental starting as before.
3 – Use Coupons to save. Weekdays often have cheap deals, like 15,000 for 24hrs.
4 – There is still no English service.
The Basics on using SoCar (쏘카)
The whole app and registration process is in Korean and there are a few extra holes to jump through when registering a foreign name. Without going into specific details we were required to send (via email or SoCar 1:1 messenger) pictures of our Korean Driving License as well as proof of address. It seems like different people Korean or Foreign have different experiences.
After registration the application is pretty simple, choose a pickup/drop-off location, the start/finish times and then one of the available cars. Pay and you’re good to go.
The range of cars differs from site to site, sometimes it a lone car but often it’s a small range from cheaper Chevy Sharks and Kia Rays to SUVs and Saloons to more luxury Kia Stingers and BMWs. (Here are a few examples)
The car is opened and locked via the app, so no need for a key.
Once you return the car at the end of your time period you’ll be billed for the fuel used and any toll fees if you used the high-pass system.
SoCar (쏘카) Positives
Let’s start with the Positives;
Firstly there are 1000s of cars listed right across Korea (image below). Some areas have more than others but in the bigger cities it’s pretty easy to find a SoCar without having to go out of your way.
Secondly if you live in a big city area such as Seoul, there are plenty of SoCar locations (image below). This was 10mins before the pickup time on a Friday morning and you can easily pick and choose.
Finally the pricing is fair and the costs are listed simply. For example as shown below if wanted a cheap Kia Ray for a couple of hours the basic cost of under 10,000 even after adding insurance.
SoCar (쏘카) Negatives
Moving onto the Negatives;
Firstly the signup process isn’t simple and you require a lot of patience. It took us about a week to sort everything out, but it could be done within a few days. It would be easier and a lot quicker for a Korean.
Secondly not all areas have SoCar options, Incheon Airport for example as people rarely go there just to visit the island. But also smaller towns and area have fewer or no options.
Finally most of the time the pickup and drop-off point needs to be the same, so you have to pay of the time the car is sitting idle. So if you’re traveling somewhere it might need to be a short stop.
Our SoCar (쏘카) Experience Overall
We booked a Chevrolet Spark for 6hrs 9am to 3pm, the total price including 70km of driving was 44,000. It saved us over 2hrs vs. taking public transport and was cheaper vs. a taxi. The car was clean and worked perfectly. There was no time delay between booking and the application or car. The fuel/toll fees were charged before we’d left the drop-off location. It was more expensive as it was a National Holiday and we didn’t have any coupons.
On the whole our first experience using SoCar was positive, the setup process was tricky and there are certainly a number of barriers. However once you get past the door the experience is simple and very useful. It’s priced fairly and there weren’t any hidden fees. We’d say it’s useful for those living in Korea long-term and don’t require a car often. But for visitors it may not be possible or advisable.
Links and More Information on SoCar (쏘카)
The Official SoCar Website: https://www.socar.kr/
Google Marketplace Application Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=socar.Socar
Tim & Jeonghye