SINGAPORE — Just 9 per cent of the 1,200 Honda Vezel defective cars owned by ride-hailing company Uber’s rental arm here have been rectified so far, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Friday (Aug 4), based on the “latest available information provided by importers and dealers”.
In response to the LTA’s comments, a spokesperson for Uber, which had earlier in the day said that all affected Honda Vezel cars had been fixed, noted that “importers or motor dealers who have imported or sold vehicles affected by any safety-related vehicle recall are required to notify LTA and the affected vehicle owners”.
“We have learned that importers may not have adequately notified the LTA about the rectification of Honda Vezel vehicles owned by Lion City Rentals (Uber’s rental arm),” said the Uber spokesperson.
“We are working closely with the LTA and importers to ensure that the LTA’s records are up to date”, the spokesperson added.
The comments by LTA and Uber, made separately in response to TODAY’s queries, came in the wake of a Wall Street Journal report on Thursday that Uber had bought and leased more than 1,000 defective Honda Motor vehicles to its drivers in Singapore.
The LTA noted that Honda Motor Japan initiated a vehicle recall affecting about 160,000 Japanese Domestic Model Honda Vezel cars fitted with faulty engine idling stop capacitors. About 11,000 of these cars were imported to Singapore.
So far, only 25 per cent of these 11,000 cars – or 2,750 – of them have been rectified, said the LTA.
Under the vehicle recall framework in Singapore, importers or motor dealers who have imported or sold vehicles affected by any safety-related vehicle recall are required to notify LTA and the affected vehicle owners.
“For all newly imported Honda Vezel cars which are affected by the recall and which have yet to be registered, the importers and dealers are required to inform their potential customers of the recall,” said an LTA spokesperson. “The buyers of such vehicles are also required to acknowledge that they have been informed of the defect and to undertake to send in their vehicle for rectification”.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Uber borrowed capital from Goldman Sachs Group and other banks to buy more than 1,000 defective Honda Motor vehicles from importers.
Uber managers in Singapore were aware that Honda had recalled the Vezel models when it bought and leased them to drivers, and at least one car burst into flames in January, the newspaper said.
Responding to TODAY’s queries earlier on Friday, an Uber spokesperson said it took “swift action to fix the problem” after learning of the auto fire and worked with Singapore officials on its response.
“We acknowledge we could have done more and we have done so,” said the Uber spokesperson. “After we have built up our systems and processes and hired the right people (following the incident), we were able to proactively take action on six other vehicle recalls that occurred (which are) not necessarily Honda (models)”.
“(We) will continue to do so to protect the safety of everyone who uses Uber,” added the spokesperson, who confirmed that all affected Honda Vezel models had been fixed.
However, some Uber drivers who drive the Honda Vezel model and are not affected by the recall, are worried about the car.
One of them is a part-time Uber driver, who wanted to be known as Ms Elliot.
The 27-year-old who began driving Uber in April this year – and rents from Lion City Rentals – said the car “gets heated very easily…and hot”.
Since May, Ms Elliot said that she had took the car twice for inspection after she noticed the heating issue. “I bring to the inspection… (centre) but they said it’s alright, everything is alright,” she added.
Rival ride-sharing company Grab said in a statement on Friday that the company did not have the petrol-only model of the Honda Vezel, which was subject to recall, in its fleet.
“GrabRentals only carries the hybrid versions of the Honda Vezel ... the hybrid version of the Honda Vezel uses a different mechanism from the petrol-only model that was the cause of the fires,” Grab added.
Separately, the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) urged Uber to do more and ensure that the safety of drivers and commuters are not comprised.
“NPHVA calls on Uber to be open and share more information on safety issues and risks highlighted in their internal report which has not been made public,” it said in a statement. “This will enable drivers to take appropriate action so that they can provide a safe ride for their passengers”.
It also called on drivers to proactively check if there are any mechanical faults with their cars and send them back to the rental companies for further inspection if necessary.