Uber in Vietnam: ride-sharing service needs the right time to launch

By Nhung Nguyen   June 2, 2016 | 07:39 pm GMT+7
Uber in Vietnam: ride-sharing service needs the right time to launch
An illustration picture shows the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone. Photo by Reuters

In April, Uber launched its motorcycle taxi service UberMOTO in Vietnam after piloting it in Thailand, tapping into the huge market currently dominated by Grab. However, UberPOOL, another feature of the app, may have to wait longer before arriving in Vietnam.

At a meeting with the press in Ho Chi Minh City on June 1, Head of Public Policy for Safety at Uber Dorothy Chou said the technology company is still waiting for the market to reach a certain level of demand before bringing in one of their latest products UberPOOL.

“The way carpooling works requires a certain level of liquidity in the market. There have to be a certain number of trips, a certain number of drivers. The idea is when a market reaches a level of liquidity in terms of trips, that is when we can start working with UberPOOL in reality,” said Chou.

UberPOOL is a service that allows customers to share rides and split the cost of their trip with another Uber passenger headed in the same direction. Jakarta, Indonesia, was the first Southeast Asian city to welcome the service.

“You won’t be able to match people up because they don’t want to wait too long for a pool. Meanwhile, we still have to keep the waiting times really low and there has to be a high concentration of demand in the city. We have to make sure it’s the right time for UberPOOL, otherwise people won’t see it as necessary. But one thing is for sure that the day UberPOOL is lauched in Vietnam will come,” Uber’s global representative added.

Vietnam is Uber’s second fastest growing market with more than 15,000 people registered as drivers. Just a month ago, the ride-sharing firm extended the battle with its biggest rival Grab by launching the 'xe om'-ride hailing service called UberMOTO, to which Grab was the pioneer.

“We want to accommodate with local trends, and Vietnam has over 40 million motorbikes in total. So it is inevitable and actually makes a lot of sense to us to just launch UberMOTO here: it’s the primary way people get around, and everybody owns a bike,” said Chou.

The Vietnamese government is trying to control the fierce battle in the transportation industry between traditional taxi firms and new services like Uber and Grab. Photo by Reuters/Sergio Perez

The Vietnamese government is trying to control the fierce battle in the transportation industry between traditional taxi firms and new services like Uber and Grab. Photo by Reuters/Sergio Perez

Though having gained a certain popularity, both Grab and Uber have not been officially recognized by law in Vietnam. The struggle to regulate their operations by the government can be seen in the controversial draft decree No. 86, in which the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam suggested that Uber and Grab taxis should have “Taxi E” signs on their cars to differentiate them from conventional taxis. If the regulation comes into force, it would be potentially troubling for the two ridesharing services, as many of their drivers only consider it a part-time job, and may be unhappy with the alterations to their cars. 

 
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