Uber launches xe om-hailing service for Vietnam, challenging pioneer Grab


Ride-share rivals Uber and Grab have extended their battle in Vietnam to a new arena: xe om, the motorbike taxi typical of the Southeast Asian country.

Grab, a startup that began as an app allowing people to hail traditional taxis via smartphone, introduced the option to catch xe om drivers in Vietnam in May 2015, forcing its competor Uber to toss its hat into the ring.As with Grab, Uber was initially an app allowing people to book a private car via smartphone before officially launching its UberMoto service on Thursday for users in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The Vietnam launch comes shortly after the debut of UberMoto in Thailand and Indonesia, whose streets, as with Vietnam, teem with motorbikes.UberMoto allows users to hail a xe om by inputting their departure and destination locations into the app, at a fare of VND3,700 a km. The minimum cost of a ride is VND10,000. As with its car service, payment is accepted both in cash and by card. (US$1 = VND22,300)Uber is also calling for motorbike owners in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to enlist as drivers.In Vietnam, most ‘traditional’ xe om drivers are self-employed and fares are highly negotiable.Almost immediately after UberMoto was launched, Grab announced that it cut fares in the same two cities for its own xe om-booking service, GrabBike.In Hanoi, the new fare is set at VND9,000 for the first two kilometers, and VND3,500 for every additional kilometer. The respective fares in Ho Chi Minh City are VND12,000 and VND3,800.The previous prices were VND12,000 for the first three kilometers, and VND4,500 each for the subsequent kilometers.

Grab and Uber are considered game changers in Vietnam’s taxi market and are both increasingly favored by local passengers, with traditional cab drivers reeling.GrabCar, which is Grab’s service that allows people to hail a private car, exactly the same as Uber’s app, was earlier this month allowed to operate legally in Vietnam, after having been under fire for its debatable legality and subject to repeated protests from local taxi associations since it entered the Vietnamese market in 2014.

Source: Tuoi Tre News

Photo: Tuoi Tre News