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Published: Mon, August 07, 2017
Culture | By Antonia Gonzales

Uber knowingly rented recalled cars to drivers in Singapore

Uber knowingly rented recalled cars to drivers in Singapore

Travis Kalanick no longer runs Uber, but stories of questionable decision-making at the company under his leadership continue.

Concerns over the cars' defects became a reality in January when one of the vehicles' dashboards burst into flames, melting the interior of the auto and putting a hole in its windshield. He said that by law, a vehicle dealer has to participate in a recall by replacing any defective parts. The Journal reported that Uber was notified about the recall the following month but continued to buy the unrepaired vehicles and rent them out.

Uber has said it could have done more to pull unsafe cars off the road in Singapore, amid allegations it rented out faulty vehicles to drivers. Sunrita informed its client of the recall on 5 May 2016 and that affected parts will be replaced by the end of August 2016. On its dressed-down website and promotional materials, LCR describes itself as an "Uber-affiliated partner", though it doesn't reveal that the company is actually Uber itself.

Uber declined to say whether management knew the rented vehicles were defective.

Uber has established "robust protocols" and hired three experts "to ensure we are fully responsive to safety recalls", the statement said. Of these, 1,200 are owned by Lion City Rentals.

The organisation chose to deliberately buy the cars from an unauthorised dealer two days after the model had been recalled by Honda on 4 April 2016, in what appears to be a reckless effort to cut costs.

In January, Uber paid $20 million to settle a U.S. Federal Trade Commission lawsuit, saying the company made false or misleading claims about its leasing program, among other alleged violations.

Michael Brown, Uber's general manager of the Asia-Pacific region, sent an advisory to his colleagues on 13 January to pull out faulty cars from the streets to circumvent any further untoward incident. Uber texted drivers to tell them their vehicles would need "immediate precautionary servicing" within the week, yet neglected to tell them why.

"For all newly imported Honda Vezel cars which are affected by the recall and which have yet to be registered, the importers and dealers are required to inform their potential customers of the recall", LTA said.

One of these dealers was Sunrita Pte Ltd., who had reportedly not fixed the cars sold to Uber as of the end of Aug previous year, "citing a shortage of replacement parts", to which Uber sent periodic emails for them to speed up the process.

Uber's lawyers in Singapore began assessing the legal liability, including possibly violating driver contracts for supplying faulty cars and failing to immediately inform the Land Transport Authority about the defective cars, emails show.

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