‘UBER RENTED OUT FAULTY VEZEL SUVS’

WSJ says S’pore unit bought cars that had been re­called but not re­paired by Honda

New Straits Times - - Business -

UBER Tech­nolo­gies Inc know­ingly rented its driv­ers de­fec­tive cars at risk of catch­ing fire, the Wall Street Jour­nal (WSJ) re­ported yes­ter­day, and the ride­hail­ing firm said it moved to fix the prob­lem af­ter one of the ve­hi­cles suf­fered a fire.

The WSJ cited in­ter­nal emails and doc­u­ments show­ing Uber’s Sin­ga­pore unit bought more than 1,000 Vezel sport util­ity ve­hi­cles (SUV) that maker Honda Mo­tor Co Ltd 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 WSJ also said the 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,” said Uber.

The WSJ re­ported the ve­hi­cle caught fire in Jan­uary.

An Uber spokesman said all ve­hi­cles had now been re­paired.

“We ac­knowl­edge we could have done more — and we have done so,” said Uber. It said it had hired three ex­perts “whose sole job is to en­sure we are fully re­spon­sive to safety re­calls”.

The WSJ re­ported that Uber’s lawyers had as­sessed po­ten­tial le­gal li­a­bil­i­ties in­clud­ing pos­si­bly vi­o­lat­ing driver con­tracts.

“There is clearly a large safety/re­spon­si­ble ac­tor/brand in­tegrity/pub­lic re­la­tions is­sue for Uber,” an in­ter­nal re­port read, ac­cord­ing to the Jour­nal.

Uber, which has pulled out of mas­sive mar­kets China and Rus­sia, used Sin­ga­pore as a spring­board to grow in pop­u­lous South­east Asia.

The re­gion is dom­i­nated by Grab, which says it has a 95 per cent mar­ket share in third-party taxi-hail­ing and 71 per cent in pri­vate ve­hi­cle hail­ing. The lo­cal in­cum­bent last month said it had raised US$2.5 bil­lion (RM10.7 bil­lion) to fund fur­ther growth.

Grab said its driv­ers did not use the Vezel model that was sub­ject to re­call. Reuters

BLOOMBERG PIC

A worker clean­ing a Vezel sport util­ity ve­hi­cle on dis­play out­side Honda’s head­quar­ters in Tokyo. An Uber spokesman says all faulty ve­hi­cles it is us­ing in Sin­ga­pore have been re­paired.

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