Ride-sharing apps vie to replace private car ownership in Vietnam

Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:41am EDT
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By Lien Hoang

HO CHI MINH CITY (Reuters) - A young, tech-savvy population short on cars but big on smartphones is driving double-digit growth for ride-hailing apps Uber and GrabTaxi in Vietnam, and inspiring some executives to dream of replacing private car ownership altogether.

Uber launched its service in Vietnam last year and says Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi already have the highest average numbers of trips per user out of the 300 cities in which it operates, double the rate in New York.

Ride-sharing apps have taken off among Vietnam's rapidly expanding middle class as they provide four-wheeled comfort in a country better known for chaotic swarms of scooters and Southeast Asia's most expensive taxi fares.

"The price is good, the service is good," said Uber user Nguyen Phi Yen, who runs a career counseling firm in Ho Chi Minh City.

"Uber drivers have good taste in music. Even the cars smell better than taxis."

With less than three people out of every 100 owning cars in Vietnam, a country of 90 million people, and one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the region, ride-sharing executives are thinking big.

"Our goal is to replace private car ownership," San Francisco-based Uber Technologies' [UBER.UL] general manager for Vietnam, Dang Viet Dzung, told Reuters in an interview.

"If Uber is available everywhere, so cheap, so reliable, why do you need to buy a car?"   Continued...

A customer uses the GrabTaxi app on her smartphone to book for a taxi in Hanoi, Vietnam September 9, 2015.  REUTERS/Kham