Grab, the ride-hailing company that consumed Uber’s business in Southeast Asia, today made a big push to grow the number of electric vehicles in its fleet after it partnered with energy supplier Singapore Power.
The deal will see Grab add 200 new ‘fast-charging’ EVs to its fleet in Singapore with SP providing “preferential” pricing at the organization’s charging stations. Grab said drivers who opt for an EV — which will be “progressively rolled out” from early 2019 — can expect to increase their earnings by as much as 25 percent over drivers using petrol engines thanks to SP’s ‘mates’ rate.’
The partnership with SP is important to Grab because infrastructure such as charging stations and cost savings are crucial to persuading the most active car drivers to make a move to electric. Ride-sharing drivers certainly rank in the group that can make a difference.
SP has committed to operating 500 charging stations by 2020, which would become Singapore’s largest of its kind. An initial 30 are expected to be up and running before the end of this year and, when ready, Grab said they will charge its upcoming EV model in just 40 mins. Each charge would allow 400km of driving, the company added.
Grab said it has a number EVs within in its Singapore fleet today — it declined to disclose numbers but claimed it is “the largest electric and hybrid vehicle fleet in Southeast Asia” — but these charging stations and the potential to earn additional income are sure to help boost that number, whatever it may be.
This initiative applies to Singapore, but a Grab spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company intends to expand its EV fleet regionally in due time. The company didn’t provide any specifics on that plan, however.
Grab operates in eight countries in Southeast Asia, but Singapore is the most advanced in terms of EV infrastructure. The company recently raised $2 billion from Toyota and others. It acquired Uber’s regional business in March and today it claims over 100 million downloads with more than two billion rides completed to date. Grab recently claimed its annual revenue run rate has surpassed $1 billion, but it has not provided profit or loss numbers.
Outside of electric, Grab has previously forayed into self-driving vehicles through a partnership with Nutonomy. That relationship appears to have ended after Nutonomy was acquired by auto firm Delphi last year. A month before that deal, Grab made an investment in another self-driving car startup, Drive.ai, which said it planned to open an office in Singapore.
Note: The original version of this article was updated to correct that Grab is active in eight countries, not seven.