‘UBER RENTED OUT FAULTY VEZEL SUVS’
WSJ says S’pore unit bought cars that had been recalled but not repaired by Honda
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
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.