A few years back, when I visited some friends of mine in Brussels, I was baffled to learn that they didn’t own a car. It was certainly within their budget; however they lived in the middle of a large city where parking was an issue and public transport was a dream. How did they do their weekly shopping, go for a road trip in the country on the weekend or visit their family out of town? They introduced me to a car hire app they used for all their transport needs that weren’t met by public transport: all over Brussels, there are cars parked at central locations that are available for hire. Just for an hour, a day or a week. Customers simply make their booking via the app, either in advance to ensure the car is available or spontaneously, hoping for the best. They unlock the car with their phone and don’t even need a key to start the engine. If they run out of fuel they fill up the car using the fuel card provided, as petrol is included in the booking fee. I was amazed when I heard of this service, as it makes so much sense in overcrowded cities.
Now such an app, KINTO, has moved into Busselton. Not a large, crowded city by any means, definitely not supported by a robust public transport network of trains, trams and buses, so probably it would be premature to sell my car and follow my Belgian friends’ example. I’m still intrigued though and happily agree when Busselton Toyota asks me to try the KINTO app to see what it has to offer to locals.
The process starts a few days before the actual booking, as only KINTO approved drivers are able to use the service. Nothing too involved, just the usual checking of your driver’s licence and payment details, but it might take a couple of days. So even if you’re not planning to use KINTO anytime soon, it might be a good idea to sign up now so you’ll be able to use this option when needed. It’s free to join and there is no membership fee, so nothing to lose.
Coincidentally, my car is in desperate need for a service, a perfect excuse to put KINTO to the test. I make the KINTO booking the same day as I book in the service. The car of my choice is a beauty: a Toyota Camry Hybrid, a great size for a drive around Busselton. The fleet consists of a selection of Toyotas of many shapes and sizes, and I can see myself hiring one the more spacious options for an outing with friends or the ute to move furniture around in the future. I book the car from 9 to 4, but it’s possible to make a booking for just an hour as well. This is where KINTO bookings could save locals a lot of money, for the short and sweet trips. I’ve done a bit of research and this looks to be the only car hire place around Busselton which offers hourly rates as far as I know. KINTO’s pricing is transparent and simple: there is an hourly, daily and weekly rate, and instead of paying for petrol and insurance, there is a fixed charge for each kilometre on top of that.
I personally find the process of looking for a petrol station after a car hire and refuelling slightly tedious, so this is a convenient solution.
I wrongly assumed the local Toyota dealership was handling the bookings. Instead, all I have to do was walk to the car I pre-booked and unlock it with the app. At first, I get nervous because I can’t find a key to start the car, but then I realise that none is required. Luckily my phone is fully charged, as, with KINTO, it literally is the key to the entire driving experience. A dead phone battery would be probably just as bad as running out of petrol.
Driving a hybrid is a new experience for me as well and I absolutely love it. So quiet, smooth and thoroughly enjoyable. You bet I make a mental note that my next car will be a hybrid or electric car!
I decide to head out for a scenic drive around beautiful Busselton and Geographe before heading to the office, because why not? After a beautiful visit to the iconic Busselton Jetty, I’m interested in finding out how the car handles slightly higher speeds, so I head to the glorious Tuart Forest nearby – no regrets! I picked a stunner of a spring day for the drive, and there is nothing quite like the Jetty in the glittering blue ocean or the gentle sunrays filtered through the trees of the Tuart Forest.
Whether I like it or not, I have to head to the office eventually, leave the car at the car park and lock it via the app. In the afternoon I learn that the mechanics will be busy with my car for longer than expected, so I end up extending my KINTO booking for an extra hour. In line with the overall simplicity of the app, this isn’t a problem, as no one else has booked the car for the rest of the day. I grab my phone and get it done in a matter of seconds. When I’m ready to return the car, I simply park the Camry at the same place I picked it up from, make sure I’ve removed all of my belongings and end the booking with a tap on my phone screen.
So after this first taste, will I keep the KINTO app on my phone? Absolutely. My car will need another service sooner or later, there are always oversized items to move around that require a ute and potential future visitors might like to use it. As long as they are pre-approved by KINTO as well, they will be allowed to use a car I booked for them at no extra charge for multiple drivers.
Anything that’s missing? I can imagine that some families might like a car seat for their children, which is currently not an option for KINTO cars, though customers are free to bring and install their own. If there was the option to pick up the car in Busselton and drop off in Perth, and vice versa, that would open up a whole new range of possibilities, too.
Still there is a lot to love about KINTO, especially its simplicity, convenience and variety of its fleet. I hope it’s here to stay and encourage everyone to give it a go.
- Recommend an SUV to your guests as a car hire option during their stay in the region
- Hire an extra ute for your growing business
- Hire a sedan for a business trip
- Hourly hire rates available.
- Enjoy the self-service experience. No key collection required, just use your phone and collect your car from Busselton Toyota!
How to Join Kinto