On top of everything else, Uber knowingly leased recalled cars to its drivers in Singapore.
One of those cars, a Honda Vezel SUV, caught fire in January, the Wall Street Journal reported this week. The Uber driver was not hurt.
But the incident understandably caused a stir at San Francisco-based Uber, which sent SiliconBeat the following statement Thursday:
“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 as well as technical experts. We acknowledge we could have done more — and we have done so. We’ve introduced robust protocols and hired three dedicated experts in-house at LCR whose sole job is to ensure we are fully responsive to safety recalls.”
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According to internal emails and documents seen by the Journal, Uber’s Singapore unit — its first in Asia — chose to buy cars for its fleet at small auto importers there instead of authorized Honda and Toyota dealers because the vehicles would cost 12 percent less.
The Journal also reported that Uber’s Lion City Rental unit — established because it’s expensive to own a car in Singapore, and Uber needed drivers — had already bought Honda Vezels before Honda issued a recall last August. LCR continued to buy the vehicles even after the recall, though, while periodically asking the auto importers to speed up the process of fixing the electrical components that could overheat.
Even after the fire in January, Uber chose to leave the vehicles on the road, emails show. The company said it informed drivers about the defective parts, asking them to disable them.
Uber now says all the faulty vehicles have been fixed; that it is only buying from authorized dealers; and that it has implemented a new recall protocol.
Uber, the high-flying private company that’s been rocked by scandal, sexism and sexual-harassment charges, continues its search for a CEO to replace Travis Kalanick. He stepped down in June after pressure from shareholders of the $70 billion company.
Photo: Outside Uber headquarters in San Francisco in 2016. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Tags: Singapore, Uber