Uber Malaysia launches 2 new services in KL as competition with Grab heats up

Uber Malaysia launches 2 new services in KL as competition with Grab heats up
AFP file photo
Published: 2:29 PM, September 6, 2017
Updated: 4:36 PM, September 6, 2017

SINGAPORE – Uber has launched two new services in the Malaysian capital that are similar to those provided by Grab, in the latest sign of intensifying competition between the two ride-hailing companies.

Called UberFLASH and UberTAXI, the two services for Klang Valley commuters announced by Uber on Monday (Sept 4) resemble Grab's JustGrab and standard taxi services in Singapore and Malaysia.

The move came amid ongoing talks between Uber and Singapore's largest taxi operator, ComfortDelGro, for a potential "strategic alliance", as well as an aggressive push by Grab to woo ComfortDelGro's taxi drivers. 

Uber and ComfortDelgro have been tight-lipped about the progress of their talks. When asked if the UberFLASH service would be introduced in Singapore, Uber spokesman Leigh Wong said the ride-hailing firm had "nothing to announce" at the moment.

The UberTaxi service was launched in Singapore in September 2014, though the company described it merely as an "experiment" then. The option to hail a taxi via the Uber app continues to be available in Singapore, and "is open to any interested taxi drivers who are keen to be on the Uber platform", Uber added.

According to a blog post on Uber's website, prices for the UberTAXI service in Malaysia will be based on the meter, though the fare may be subjected to dynamic pricing in times of high demand.

Payment for the taxi ride, which include standard cabs, sedans and multi-purpose vehicles, can be done through the app.

The UberFLASH service, which was first piloted in Bangkok in June this year, connects commuters with the closest Uber-partnered driver, regardless of whether it is a private car or a taxi.

Grab's JustGrab service works in a similar fashion by automatically assigning either a taxi or a private car – at a fixed rate – to the user. 

Uber Malaysia’s announcement on Monday came hours after Grab launched one of its most aggressive moves yet in Singapore.

On Sunday night, Grab had broadcast to tens of thousands of ComfortDelGro drivers via text message that they would offer heavily discounted rental rates — shaving off about half of what they are currently paying in some cases — to entice ComfortDelGro’s taxi drivers to jump ship.