Popcar: A solution to the Millennial dilemma

Beatrice Smith

I was a bit slow to the car party.

I remember being very excited to get my L’s but my enthusiasm died pretty quickly after I got behind the wheel for the first time and realised that learning to drive a car was a bit like extended school, except the teacher was your parent. It also didn’t help that I had single-car owning long-commute parents who seemed to be the ‘only parents’ who didn’t gift their child either a hand-me-down or brand new car on completion of their Learner’s test. Outrageous.

I finally graduated to my P plates but travel always took up the bulk of my long-term savings, I’ve also been fortunate enough to always live along ACTION bus routes and have never been particular excited to pay for things like rego fees or petrol, so I now find myself almost 25 without having ever owned a car.

I got used to being that pain of a friend that always needs a ride to the party a long time ago, but on weekends where my plans deviate from housemates’…I sometimes get stuck.

IKEA on the weekend? Only with housemates. Dinner and a movie across town? Sorry, we’ll have to change to somewhere closer to my house.

I’d heard about car sharing (it’s been around for a while, after all) but it wasn’t until I was invited along to the launch of Popcar in Canberra that I ever considered it for myself.

Unlike other car sharing services, Popcar have researched how Canberrans use their cars and other forms of transport like buses and cycling. As a result, their rides are ideal for short-term bursts of driving, such as day trips and shopping excursions.

“Popcar is great if you don’t own a vehicle and need one sometimes or if you require a vehicle for a specific purpose like a hatch, sports car, SUV or van,” says Sam Chircop, Business Development Manager at Popcar.

Popcar also provide a solution to the issue I’ve coined as The Millennial’s Dilemma.

Millennials are incredibly involved in the state of our planet and many of my university peers now work for NGOs dedicated to climate change action. We feel passionate about preserving the planet and yet many of us drive old, fuel inefficient cars out of sheer necessity because, hey, hybrids are expensive.

However, for those who want to reduce their carbon footprint and drive only when necessary or families looking to downsize to one car, Popcar could be the solution that appeases both your environmental concerns and practical needs – they even have hybrids available to rent!

“We’re glad that we can provide that transport link between other forms of transport and in areas that lack public transport to encourage more people to cycle and walk and only drive a car when they need one,” says Sam.

“We also hope to see that from using Popcar’s service, including Hybrid vehicles, we can contribute to reducing Canberra’s ecological footprint creating a healthier environment.”

So I found myself last weekend standing next to a shiny new Toyota Corolla on Challis Street in Dickson, one of three ‘stations’ Popcar have in Canberra – the other two being on Hobart Place and King George Terrace, next to the National Library.

The most obvious question is ‘How do you get into the car?’. Good question.

After you’ve signed up to Popcar online – a process that takes all of five minutes – you’ll receive an envelope within 24 hours in the mail. This includes a ‘swipey’ key card that now acts as your key to Popcar vehicles.

The first step is booking a car, easily done on Popcar’s app or website by locking in a calendar date and time and choosing what sort of car you’d like to use.

For my maiden Popcar voyage, I chose a Corolla to visit IKEA on a day when both my housemates were otherwise occupied.

Once you receive a confirmation email for your booking, you simply show up to the car at the start of your booking time and hold your card over the little blue square on the windscreen. Hey presto, the car unlocks.


Feeling like I was definitely in The Future, I got into the car, which was spotless and looked (and smelled!) brand new. Sam later confirmed for me that all Popcars are no more than three years old, meaning you’re getting the most fuel efficient, cleanest models on offer with few kilometres on their engines and wheels.

In another sci-fi touch is that the car won’t start until you answer questions asked on the little keypad on the top of the windscreen – Is the car clean? Yes or No. Is the car? Yes or No. Once you’ve answered the questions, the car will start.

On the same device there’s a little screen that keeps you up to date on the time of your booking and the current time. You can also adjust the length of your booking via the buttons too.

Since my parents’ car is a people mover I affectionately call ‘Big Blue’, it’s safe to say that driving the zippy little Corolla felt pretty darn good and it was exactly the quick fix solution that I need on days when hitching a ride isn’t an option.

The best part though? There’s a credit card stashed in the car for petrol costs, meaning you just pay your joining fee and kilometres driven.

For people whose priorities aren’t to drive everywhere, or who just need a car occasionally, or perhaps don’t like the idea of owning a car, Popcar is here to make your life a little easier, and hopefully make Canberra a little ‘greener’ in the process.

the essentials

What: Popcar carsharing
Where: There are three stations in the ACT. To view the cars available at a station near you, click here.
When: Cars can be hired for as little an hour and as long as you like, but are mostly recommended for short trips
Find out more: popcar.com.au


Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Online Editor involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise, you’ll find her at the movies or ordering a cheese board. More about the Author

  • Jen

    We usually walk or take the bus for our daily commute – so much less stressful than driving – highly recommended! And Popcar has been a fantastic addition to our transport options for those day trips or places hard to get to on the bus. The best thing I like about it I don’t have to worry about paying rego, insurance or remembering to book it in for a service. Drive and forget – fantastic service.