In Singapore, buying a car can be prohibitive. Some have taken to renting cars and paying them off by being Uber drivers, then using the car for their own purposes during downtime.
According to a Bloomberg report, the Southeast nation’s citizens have begun driving for Uber in order to cover costs related to the purchase of new vehicles. The report quotes an Uber driver, who recently rented a Honda Vezel and drives six days a week for the ride sharing app, as saying that the part-time employment helps pay rental costs for the car. “And any extra money that’s more income for you,” he says. Uber offers its drivers the option of driving their own car or leasing one.
According to a 2015 report from Straits Times, a prominent newspaper in Singapore, the latter option is popular with drivers of app-based services because they do not have to incur costs related to maintenance or servicing in that option. The drivers are employees of the rental firms, which, presumably, have an agreement with the ride-sharing app. (See also: The Story Of Uber).
The operation has led to an increase in the number of rental cars in Singapore. The Bloomberg report states that rental rates have “soared” by more than 50 percent. The 2015 report from Straits Times corroborates the increase and quotes the vice president of a rental association as saying that the “accelerated growth” is mainly due to the “apps-based model of limousine service.”
He is referring to growth prospects for the ride sharing apps within Southeast Asia. According to some estimates, the ride-sharing market is expected to be worth $13.1 billion by 2025, up from $2.5 billion in 2015. Uber is locked in a heated battle for market share with local startup GrabTaxi.
A WSJ report from last year detailed the battle. GrabTaxi is founded by Anthony Tan, a Malaysian graduate of Harvard Business School. GrabTaxi runs an assortment of services customized for the local market under its umbrella. In addition to GrabCar, the startup's ride sharing option, it has a carpool service to transport workers from Southern Malaysia to Singapore. It has also introduced motorcycle taxis in Singapore, where traffic congestion is notorious. The company led Uber in app download numbers and monthly active users in Singapore as of last year, according to statistics from App Annie. But the fight is an expensive one for both companies. For example, the Singapore government recently made a $250 vocational license for drivers of ride sharing apps mandatory. The companies absorbed the cost on their balance sheet and it is estimated to cost $2 million based on a tally of current driver numbers. (See also: Uber's Race To Catch Asian Rivals May Hurt Profits).