Uber has replaced faulty part in all its Vezels: LTA

All of Uber's 1,220 faulty Honda Vezels have been recalled and have had their fire-prone parts replaced, according to the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

In a response to a query from The Straits Times, the LTA said yesterday that "all of Lion City Rental's Honda Vezels have been rectified".

Lion City Rental is fully owned by San Francisco-based Uber and is the biggest provider of rental cars of Uber's Singapore operations.

The rectification comes just two weeks after news broke that Uber had knowingly rented out the faulty Vezels to its drivers. At least one had caught fire - in January this year - but no one was hurt.

It is unclear how Uber managed to fix all 1,220 cars in such a short time.

Honda initiated the recall in April last year. But according to Uber, "as soon as we learnt of a Honda Vezel... catching fire, we took swift action to fix the problem".

The LTA said yesterday that it had been "closely monitoring the recall and rectification progress for affected Honda Vezels" in Singapore.

As of Wednesday, 40 per cent of the approximately 11,000 affected Honda Vezels had been rectified - up from 25 per cent two weeks ago.

The Straits Times understands that not all the parallel importers responsible for fixing the faulty cars had updated the LTA.

LTA reminded importers and motor dealers to ensure that the rectifications are done according to the manufacturer's requirements. They should also update the rectification status through LTA's Electronic Vehicle Recall System.

The Vezel flaw has to do with an inadequate electrical capacitor in the car's stop-start mechanism.

This mechanism switches off the engine when the car is stationary to save fuel and restarts it when the driver steps on the accelerator.

Repeated usage can lead to heat build-up and a fire.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which first broke the news, Uber's senior management came to know of the flaw and recommended that the vehicles be taken back from drivers to avoid "unnecessary risk".

But its Singapore general manager Warren Tseng said that the plan would cost the company about $1.4 million in driver wages, rental fees and parking costs. So, Uber decided to ask its drivers to deactivate the stop-start function while waiting for a replacement for the defective part.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2017, with the headline 'Uber has replaced faulty part in all its Vezels: LTA'. Print Edition | Subscribe