Grab, the most popular taxi booking app in Southeast Asia, signed an exclusive partnership with SMRT, Singapore’s public transport operator, to expand its fleet of rental vehicles in the city state.
The deal gives Grab exclusive access to SMRT’s fleet management capabilities. In a statement Grab said it plans to build the largest and most advanced private-hire taxi fleet in Singapore, with SMRT’s backing as its strategic partner. The fleet will include eco-friendly hybrid and fully electric vehicles, which Grab will rent to its drivers.
Lim Kell Jay, head of Grab Singapore, said: “We are thrilled to deepen our partnership with SMRT, given its strong fleet management capabilities for hybrid vehicles. Ultimately, we want to provide affordable services for driver partners and passengers.”
Grab also announced it secured a $700 million debt facility from international and regional banks, claiming it is the largest debt financing raised by a Southeast Asian start-up. The funds will be used provide more favourable rental terms for drivers and increase the supply of vehicles on the road, with the aim of creating the largest car rental programme in Southeast Asia by end-2018.
The company said its existing car rental business is a critical element in growing its driver network in the region, where car ownership is relatively low. Its regional network of drivers nearly tripled since the beginning of the year to 1.8 million.
Grab says it offers ride-hailing services in 132 cities in seven countries in Southeast Asia, claiming a 95 per cent share of the third-party taxi-hailing market.