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Toyota Launches Hui Car-Sharing Service in Honolulu

An island is a pretty good place to offer car-sharing.

Toyota is the latest automaker to launch its own car-sharing service, but it’s doing things a bit differently than its fellow car companies. While services like BMW’s ReachNow, Daimler’s Car2Go, and General Motors’ Maven tend to stick to the largest, trendiest mainland cities, Toyota chose Honolulu.

The service, called Hui, will give Hawaiians access to 70 Toyota and Lexus vehicles, all reservable through a smartphone app. The mix of models includes the Toyota Prius, Prius Prime, and Camry (in pseudo-sporty XSE trim), and the Lexus RX 350. Hui is operated by Service Pacific, Toyota’s Hawaiian distributor, and the app was developed by Toyota Connected North America, a tech-focused business unit of the automaker.

Users will pick up and drop off cars from 25 designated stations around Honolulu. Cars have to be returned to the same station they were picked up from after each trip. This station-based model, which is also used by Maven, should limit the impact of Hui on public parking spaces, and should create fewer headaches for Toyota. ReachNow ran a station-less car-sharing service in New York City’s Brooklyn borough, but had to end it due to multiple issues, including unanticipated levels of damage to ReachNow’s street-parked cars.

Toyota’s choice of an island city does make sense. There is only so much space available for cars, or anything else. Car-sharing services can help reduce private-car ownership, something that may be beneficial in a place with a finite amount of roads. All vehicles and fuel must also be shipped in from the mainland, increasing costs for both, making private car ownership less attractive.

Toyota won’t discuss offering Hui in other cities, but the company did note that the software platform used for the service could be used for other services based around fleets of vehicles, including ride hailing and remote delivery.