Uber managers in Singapore rented out faulty cars to their drivers, despite knowing that there had been a recall because they are a fire-risk.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the troubled company bought more than 1,000 of the recalled Honda Vezel SUV’s, before making them available to its workers.
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The Honda Vezel was recalled by Honda in April 2016 because of a faulty electrical part which was at risk of overheating and catching fire. The risk came to fruition in January when fire burst from the dashboard of one Uber driver’s car, leaving a hole in the windscreen and melting the interior.
Luckily, neither the driver or passengers were in the car at the time. The WSJ reports, the managers eventually told drivers of the recalled car and advised taking them to repair shops to get the faulty part deactivated. Honda had not suggested this as a recommendation.
In response to the report, Uber claims it “took swift action to fix the problem” but admit it “could have done more.” A statement from the company continues to say it worked with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority and engineers.
“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,” the statement says. “Since the beginning of the year, we’ve proactively responded to six vehicle recalls and will continue to do so to protect the safety of everyone who uses Uber.”
The problem arose as Uber first bought cars from used-car dealers suppliers, before moving onto auto importers instead of licensed dealers. The WSJ suggested this was to save money.
The importers apparently didn’t fix the vehicles because of shortage of parts and Honda didn’t have to, but Uber decided not to pull the cars off the road.
One senior executive at Uber Singapore said recalling the vehicles and leaving drivers without cars would “send panic alarm bells to the mass market.”
Uber leased the Honda Vezel’s through Lion City Rentals, which is affiliated with Uber and rents cars out for them in Singapore.
This partnership was arranged to cope with the very high demand for ride-sharing in Singapore, which is one of the most expensive cities for owning a car in the world. The US ride-hailing company has been in the media a lot recently – for all the wrong reasons.