Popular ride share company, Uber, is no stranger to bad press, but this most recent controversy may very well trump them all. The Wall Street Journal just announced that Uber knowingly leased recalled vehicles to drivers in Singapore. The vehicle in question, the Honda Vezel SUV, was not recalled for a minor matter either. In fact, the car was known to catch fire, an extremely dangerous and potentially fatal issue for unsuspecting drivers and passengers. Over 1,000 such vehicles were purchased by Uber, and despite the dangerous electrical fault, these vehicles were rented out before the recall could be remedied.
It wasn’t until an Uber Vezel actually did catch fire back in January (luckily without injury) that the company made any move to rectify the situation, and even then, progress was slow. Now, with the recent internal e-mail and correspondence brought to light by the WSJ, people are asking why the company didn’t do something about this ticking time bomb sooner.
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Perhaps the most damning statement was that of the Singapore general manager who wrote, “Asking the drivers to give up their keys with no suggested fix will send panic alarm bells to the mass market.” It is one thing to unintentionally rent out a faulty vehicle, but it is entirely a more serious issue when a company tasked with the safety of their drivers and passengers knowingly puts people at risk to avoid bad PR.
To make matters more complicated, all of the recalled Vezels rented out were done through Lion City Rental, an Uber affiliate, or perhaps more aptly, an Uber subsidiary, created to capitalize on the market in Singapore. By creating Lion City Rental, Uber was able to effectively corner the market on ride sharing and taxi services due to Singapore’s strict vehicle ownership laws. Questionable business practices such as these, coupled with this most recent controversy and the scandalous, abrupt departure of their CEO is giving credence to the idea that Uber, once viewed as a pioneer in the transportation industry, may not be able to maintain the same respectable status in the face of ill repute.
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