Monday, 11 December, 2017

Uber knowingly rented fire-risk cars to drivers in Singapore

Rented but recalled Uber car bursts into flames in Singapore, report says Smoke, Then Fire: Uber Knowingly Leased Unsafe Cars to Drivers - WSJ - Wall Street Journal
Christy Curtis | 05 August, 2017, 01:11

The main issue with the Honda Vezel vehicles was that an electrical component, which is supposed to shut off the engine when the auto is idle, could overheat, resulting in a fire.

Uber's lawyers also assessed possible legal liabilities as well including possible violation of driver contracts, WSJ reported.

Citing Uber emails and documents from people familiar with the matter, the WSJ claimed Uber managers in Singapore were aware of the recall when they acquired the fleet of defective Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV), but leased them to drivers without the crucial repairs anyway. "Drivers weren't told about the real issue behind the Vezel".

The publication reported that Uber purchased 100 Vezels from Singapore-based dealer Sunrita two days after Honda released a recall order for the model on 4 April 2016. The Journal said Uber informed drivers of the need for "immediate precautionary servicing", but a website containing information did not mention the dangers of overheating and fire which triggered the recall from Honda.

The story relays an incident involving Uber driver Koh Seng Tian, whose rental burst into flames during a drive this past January.

The accident report shows photos of Mr. Koh's Vezel with its burned dashboard and a broken windshield.

Chan Park, another Uber Singapore manager, echoed Tseng's concern, stating that leaving faulty cars on the road "feels like low risk" with emphasis that Honda's recall occurred nine months ago.

Uber Singapore bought the cars from small dealers in the gray market since it would save up to 12 per cent of the car's regular cost at partner Honda dealers.

One internal report read: "There is clearly a large safety/responsible actor/brand integrity/PR issue" for the company.

Uber's history is rife with examples of the company flouting laws and authorities, from refusing to get necessary permits-at least for awhile-to operate semi-autonomous cars in San Francisco to the use of a tool called Greyball that helped it undermine law enforcement investigating the company.

"We took swift action to fix the problem, in close coordination with Singapore's Land Transport Authority as well as technical experts", Uber spokesman told the Journal.

In Singapore, the ride-hailing company for years purchased vehicles from unauthorized suppliers with lax safety standards, including thousands of cars with known defects.

Uber has since introduced a recall protocol for the company and hired three in-house experts to ensure the ride-hailing company is "fully responsive" to safety recalls, the spokesperson said.

Uber would also seek approval from Singapore authorities and advice from auto fix experts under the plan, WSJ reported.

"But we acknowledge we could've done more - and so we have".

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