Uber Sin­ga­pore Stokes a Fire by Driv­ing in a Thou­sand Faulty Cars

Ride-hail­ing firm bought Vezel SUVs that maker Honda had re­called due to elec­tri­cal fault and rented out to driv­ers with­out re­pair­ing: Me­dia re­port

The Economic Times - - Front Page -

Sin­ga­pore: Uber Tech­nolo­gies Inc know­ingly rented its driv­ers de­fec­tive cars at risk of catch­ing fire, ac­cord­ing to a me­dia re­port on Friday, and the ride-hail­ing firm said it moved to fix the prob­lem af­ter one of the ve­hi­cles suf­fered a fire.

The re­port cited in­ter­nal emails and doc­u­ments show­ing Uber’s Sin­ga­pore unit bought more than 1,000 Vezel sport-util­ity ve­hi­cles that maker Honda Mo­tor Co had re­called due to an elec­tri­cal fault.

It re­ported the Sin­ga­pore man­age­ment was aware of the re­call, and that the cars Uber had bought and rented out had not been re­paired. The re­port also said man­age­ment pressed the car dealer for re­pairs while rent­ing out the ve­hi­cles. “As soon as we learned of a Honda Vezel from the Lion City Rental fleet catch­ing fire, we took swift ac­tion to fix the prob­lem, in close co­or­di­na­tion with Sin­ga­pore’s Land Trans­port Au­thor­ity,” Uber said in a state­ment.

The ve­hi­cle caught fire in Janu- ary, the re­port said. The Land Trans­port Au­thor­ity did not com­ment on the re­port. An Uber spokesman in Sin­ga­pore de­clined to elab­o­rate on whether man­age­ment know­ingly rented out de­fec­tive ve­hi­cles, di­rect­ing Reuters to the com­pany state­ment. The spokesman said all ve­hi­cles have now been re­paired. “We ac­knowl­edge we could have done more — and we have done so,” Uber said in its state­ment. It said it had hired three ex­perts “whose sole job is to en­sure we are fully re­spon­sive to safety re­calls."

The re­port said that Uber’s lawyers had as­sessed po­ten­tial le­gal li­a­bil­i­ties in­clud­ing pos­si­bly vi­o­lat­ing driver con­tracts. “There is clearly a large safety/ re­spon­si­ble ac­tor/brand in­tegrity/PR is­sue,” for Uber, the me­dia re­port said cit­ing the com­pany’s in­ter­nal doc­u­ments.

“(This in­ci­dent) will re­ceive some at­ten­tion and may dis­suade some peo­ple from us­ing Uber, but I don’t see it as hav­ing a ma­jor im­pact,” said Dane An­der­son, a vice-pres­i­dent at re­searcher For­rester.

ANIR­BAN BORA

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