Vietnam's Vinasun launches ride-hailing app to compete with Uber, Grab

By Huu Nguyen   July 15, 2016 | 07:46 pm PT
The jockeying for cab clients seems to be getting increasingly fierce.

Vinasun, the second biggest taxi firm in Vietnam, has got the go-ahead to launch its own app for hailing minicabs, in an explicit gesture to fight back low-cost ride-hailing services like Uber and GrabTax, which have enjoyed significant growth in Vietnam.

“The Ministry [of Transport] has allowed Vinasun, after Grab Taxi, to launch the hailing app to connect with passengers," Le Hoang Minh, vice director of the Ho Chi Minh City's Department of Transport, said Thursday. “We encourage transport companies to apply new technologies to make it more convenient and safer for their passengers,” he said.

Vinasun, which has around 6,000 cabs and operates chiefly in Ho Chi Minh City, will offer the ride-hailing services with a fleet of 200 minicabs without roof signs, including seven-seat Fortuners and four-seat Camrys.

Passengers using Vinasun’s ride-hailing app can easily recognize their minicabs with stamps of Vcar, Vinasun's luxury version. They will be offered the option to fix the price at the beginning of a journey rather than rely, more traditionally, on the taxi meter. According to Vinasun, passengers using the apps for traditional taxis or minicabs pay the same prices.


Vinasun taxis operating in Ho Chi Minh City. File photo.

Vinasun's unmarked Vcar service, in the early phrase, will operate in Ho Chi Minh City and nearby provinces of Can Tho, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Khanh Hoa, and Dong Nai and the central city of Da Nang.

High-tech Grab Taxi, a Malaysia-based company, has been running a hailing app on a trial basis in five Vietnamese cities using both traditional taxis and unmarked minicabs.

Ta Long Hy, Vinasun's vice chief executive officer, said that the Vcar service is based on the company's taxi-hailing app, and users can easily download the app to their mobile phone.

“When hailing a cab, all passengers need to do is set their pickup location and enter destination, and the app can estimate how much the trip will cost," Hy said. "[Our system] will store all information about the trip history. If passengers leave something behind, getting it back is pretty much easy. They can also easily file a complaint,” Hy said.

Vinasun has planned to expand its Vcar fleet to 500-700 minicabs, according to the company's executives.

Vinasun Group has been listed on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange since 2008, and expects VND4.4 trillion in revenues ($197 million) this year.

Last year, Vietnamese transport authorities promised to formulate a legal framework for ride-sharing services after traditional taxi companies spoke out against increasingly stiff competition from ride-hailing services like Uber.

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