Uber loaned defective, fire-prone cars to drivers in Singapore


Struggling to find enough drivers in Singapore - mostly due to the high costs of owning cars - they launched Lion City Rentals Pte Ltd in 2015 to rent Uber-owned cars to drivers.

Concerns over the cars' defects became a reality in January when one of the vehicles' dashboards burst into flames, melting the interior of the auto and putting a hole in its windshield. According to the Journal, Uber purchased additional Honda Vezels even after the manufacturer's initial recall.

Grab drivers in Singapore do not use any of the defective Honda Vezel SUVs that were recalled in April 2016, one of which caught fire early this year while being driven by an Uber driver.

Emails show that the Uber's insurance provider in Singapore said it wouldn't cover the damage from the January fire because of the known recall.

The latest not-at-all-surprising revelation comes courtesy of The Wall Street Journal, which reported Thursday that Uber managers in Singapore knowingly purchased more than 1,000 vehicles that had been recalled for catching on fire, then rented them to people willing to drive for the ride-hailing service via a subsidiary called Lion City Rentals.

Uber's plan was to let their drivers carry on with the combustible cars while they waited for replacement parts. The driver was unharmed following the incident, per an accident report.

So instead Uber had drivers get the affected cars repaired by disabling the faulty part and to be ready to replace the parts once those came in. "But we acknowledge we could have done more-and we have done so", said an Uber spokesman. The overheating and fire dangers weren't mentioned.

Uber said the company has since improved its recall processes and now has a recall protocol, which didn't exist before.

In an interview with the Journal, an Uber spokesperson said, "We took swift action to fix the problem, in close coordination with Singapore's Land Transport Authority as well as technical experts".

According to the Journal, Uber executives in Singapore made a decision to continue to rent the cars to drivers there, though it did disable the device that was under recall.

Internal company memos indicate the company knew about the defective component in the Honda Vezels before they put the cars on the road.