SINGAPORE: Homegrown carpooling app Ryde announced it will be launching RydeX, its new private-hire car service, as part of its growth expansion strategy.
The announcement on Wednesday (Mar 28) comes hot on the heels of Grab's takeover of Uber's Southeast Asian business, which includes operations in Singapore.
Ryde said it has already started accepting sign-ups of drivers via the Ryde app, and aim to have 5,000 full-time drivers. It currently has a combined fleet of more than 55,000 drivers - both private cars and taxis - that serve 300,000 passengers a day.
“Offering private-hire car services would complete our mobility suite to serve our users better," said founder and CEO of Ryde Technologies Terence Zou.
“We’ve always been planning to enter into the private hire space to complete our mobility suite, but right now I think is also an opportune time, I think the market needs more competition and that’s where we can provide consumers and drivers with an alternative platform and way to get around,” he said.
He added the move is a "natural extension" of the business, and not a response to Uber exiting the market here.
RydeX, which is an on-demand ride-hailing service, promises to be competitive.
In a press release, the company said the driver’s commission rate will be lowered to 10 per cent, adding the savings will be passed on to commuters in the form of lower fares and to drivers in the form of higher earnings.
“We have been receiving positive feedback to launch RydeX as a new private-hire service," said Mr Zou
"We hope to provide commuters a cheaper alternative to get around and drivers a way to make a decent living. Ultimately, our mission is to make a positive social impact in people’s lives."
But one expert Channel NewsAsia spoke to said Ryde will need to work hard to differentiate itself.
Dr Park Byung Joon from the Singapore University of Social Sciences said: “They will have great difficulty in terms of the driver availability, because Grab has far more vehicles under them. So if they are simply seen as another app, then of course Singaporeans will not use them that well, so it really depends on what kind of service they can provide for commuters.”
Dr Park added that Grab’s takeover of Uber does little to alter the saturation of the private hire car market here, and he believes Ryde would have entered the market regardless.
Mr Zou said that being the smaller player has its advantages.
“Having run our carpooling business for close to three years, we also understand what the riders and the drivers want, what features they would like, what are the things that work for them, so we have been collating feedback all this while, and definitely putting the consumer first, listening to what they want, giving them a good fare option, that would be our core focus.”