SINGAPORE: Giving an update on the merger deal between Grab and Uber, the ride-hailing company’s Singapore head Lim Kell Jay said talks with the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) are “going well”.
But he said when the deal will be given the regulatory green light depends on the competition watchdog.
Mr Lim, during a briefing to reveal new services on Monday (May 7), gave a progress report on the deal, saying the regulator allowing the Uber app to be retired today is a “good sign” and he is “fairly confident” it will make the right decision to allow for innovation and competition to flourish in the country.
He also mentioned that “almost all active Uber drivers” in Singapore have been brought on to its platform, while the US company’s staff in the region is being approached by Grab to discuss their joining them.
“We are doing it as quickly as we can,” Mr Lim said, but added he “does not know” how many will be added to Grab once the Uber employees’ gardening leave ends.
“We are prepared to accept all,” he reiterated, with a company spokesperson adding that this sentiment is for all eight countries Grab is operating in.
NEW SERVICES FOR THOSE WITH MOBILITY NEEDS, YOUNG CHILDREN
The briefing was held so Grab could announce three new services it will roll out from Monday.
One of these is GrabAssist, a service catering to commuters with mobility needs, Mr Lim shared. These vehicles will accommodate foldable wheelchairs, walkers and collapsible scooters, and they will be driven by around 1,000 private-hire car and taxi drivers who have been trained by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) to provide assistance to these passengers, he added.
The service is designed for one passenger with mobility needs, the Singapore head clarified in the question-and-answer session.
The training includes theoretical and practical training in areas such as safety in transferring passengers in and out of cars, dementia awareness and hygiene and emergency preparedness, the press release issued on Monday said.
The fare for GrabAssist is priced “marginally higher than JustGrab” - it is “pegged at GrabFamily pricing”, Mr Lim elaborated - with a lower commission rate of 10 per cent, the company said. This is to reimburse drivers for their time spent on training and supporting passengers, it added.
Uber had previously offered a similar service with UberAssist, which is a vehicle option that “offers additional assistance to members of the senior and physically disabled community”, its website stated.
Another service to be launched is GrabFamily (Ages 1-3), which is an extension of its family-friendly service GrabFamily (Ages 4-7) that saw its fleet equipped with the mifold Grab-and-Go booster seat.
Cars in this fleet will come equipped with an IMMI Go car seat, and the drivers will have been fully trained on the proper installation and use of the seat, the company said, adding it will be priced similar to Uber Car Seat. A S$10 surcharge is added to uberX pricing for such trips, the website showed.
“We are aiming for end June to launch the service,” Mr Lim said, and reiterated its aim to equip all of its fleet with the mifold child booster seat, which was announced last March.
PREMIUM ECONOMY, CAR VERSION
The third service is pitched as a “premium economy” offering called GrabCar Plus, which will be rolled out by the end of May.
The service will offer newer cars that are slightly more spacious and generally less than three years old, the company said, with basic in-car amenities such as mobile phone chargers, air freshener and tissue boxes.
It will be priced between JustGrab and GrabCar premium services, the company said, with Mr Lim adding that this is “20 to 25 per cent more than JustGrab’s base fare” as well as other dynamic pricing mechanisms that might kick in.
Drivers eligible to offer this service are those highly rated with “more than 98 per cent positive feedback”. Asked how this is different from the five-star rating system currently in place, Mr Lim said the feedback is taken off commuters’ comments and not the ratings given.
“A driver can have five stars, but may have had bad passenger feedback,” the executive explained.
Mr Lim also pointed to the recent enhancement of its iOS app, as well as the “significant improvement” on its GrabRewards platform and user interface as other examples of how the company is continually improving its products and services.
He also noted that GrabFood is currently in its beta test phase, with “some” Grab users invited to test the service, which is currently confined to the Central Business District.
“We hear the needs of our community and continue to evolve to serve them better. The new services will make shared transport more accessible for different segments of community,” he said.