SINGAPORE: Ride-hailing company Grab has announced what it calls "huge rental discounts" in an aggressive bid to woo cab drivers from Singapore's largest taxi company, ComfortDelGro.
Grab confirmed a text message was sent out to all Comfort cabbies on Sunday (Sep 3), spelling out deals if they sign up by Sep 15.
The incentives include a S$50 rental discount per day if drivers were to switch to any of its taxi partners - TransCab, Prime, SMRT or Premier.
A rental discount of S$1,688 per month is also being offered, if Comfort cab drivers switch to a private hire car rented from Grab and if they can complete at least 20 trips a week.
The discounted rental rates for both schemes apply for six months.
RENTAL ATTRACTIVE, BUT OTHER FACTORS AT PLAY: COMFORT CABBIES
Channel NewsAsia understands at least 50 cabbies visited a Grab roadshow that was being held at the Prime office branch in Loyang, located directly next to one of ComfortDelGro’s offices.
One Comfort taxi driver, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tay, said he was at the event to find out more about the offer.
The 53-year-old said Grab's offer was attractive, as the rental discount is about half of the S$110 he currently pays for Comfort's taxi rental every day. But he noted there are other factors to consider. "Like (the type of vehicle) maintenance they provide, the service and the response. In terms of breakdown, how fast can they (fix it)," said Mr Tay.
Other drivers agreed, with some pointing to the perks that Comfort has also offered them in recent times.
“We have a fair deal of people flagging on the road and people still need cabs, rather than a private car,” said Mr Sultan Mohd, who has been driving with Comfort for the last four years.
“So far, Comfort has given me a good deal and been helping us a lot, so I think I will stick to it. For example, we have our road tax rebates, rental rebates and you have incentives every month now.”
POTENTAL UBER-COMFORT TIE-UP?
Grab’s move comes just weeks after Comfort announced that it is in talks with Grab's competitor – Uber, over a "potential strategic alliance".
And Grab’s strategy could be seen as a direct response to this, said Dr Lee Der Horng, a transport expert from the National University of Singapore.
“I won’t be surprised that there will be a lot of taxi drivers who would be attracted to this particular offer. As we know, taxi drivers are usually quite sensitive to a few things. Number one is their daily rental,” said Dr Lee.
“So, if someone is able to subsidise their daily rental and also at the same time, the dispatching system from the other side is still able to feed the taxi drivers with a sufficient number of jobs, I think the taxi drivers will be persuaded to switch over.”
Currently, Grab has partnerships with all taxi operators in Singapore except for Comfort.
It also recently received an investment from Toyota Motor Corp.
“The taxi idle rate is a universal phenomenon for all taxi companies in Singapore. So all taxi companies, their operations and management, are all having a headache (on) how to reduce taxi idle rate,” said Dr Lee.
“So with this new wave of competition triggered by Grab, other companies working with Grab ... will be benefiting directly," he added.
Uber has also been introducing promotions in a bid to get drivers to sign up with them.
Some taxi drivers received a text message from Uber on Monday, highlighting an ongoing promotion, which began on Aug 28.
The text said that Uber was offering rental rates of S$45 per day for drivers who rent a new car from Lion City Rentals.
In response to Channel NewsAsia’s queries, Uber said the promotion applies to all who are keen to drive with them.
“We would like to clarify that this is not in response to our competitor's recent promotion,” its spokesperson added.
ComfortDelGro did not respond to Channel NewsAsia’s request for comment on the latest developments.