Ryde to launch private-hire car service RydeX on May 2

Terence Zhou, chief executive of Ryde, at a press conference at Victoria Bar to announce the launch of the RydeX private-hire car service.
Terence Zhou, chief executive of Ryde, at a press conference at Victoria Bar to announce the launch of the RydeX private-hire car service.PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI

SINGAPORE -  Like the service provided by your private-hire car driver, and want him to ferry you again?

Local carpooling app Ryde’s new RydeX service, which will be launched on May 2, allows users to request for their preferred drivers, and also to give him a tip after the ride.
These details were revealed on Thursday (April 26) by Ryde, a month after the start-up said it would launch a private-hire service following Uber’s exit from the South-east Asia market, after its acquisition by rival Grab. Ryde’s RydeX pits it against Grab, the remaining player in the market.
Mr Terence Zou, Ryde’s founder and chief executive, said the firm has already recruited 5,000 licensed private-hire car drivers within the last month, with a “significant proportion” being formerly under Uber.
Mr Zou expects to add another 10,000 more drivers in the next three months, and he said RydeX will only take a lower 10 per cent commission. Grab currently takes a 20 per cent cut.
Unlike Grab,  RydeX will not be on-demand at the start and users will have to book their rides at least 10min in advance to get a match. The minimum fare is $8, and rates are at 60 cents per kilometre.
Like Grab and Uber, there will also be a surge factor based on expected demand and traffic congestion, but Mr Zou said the total fare, which will be quoted upfront during the booking, will be capped at $100.
Ryde will transit to an on-demand service when it recruits a “critical mass” of drivers for its platform, said Mr Zou. 
He  said to keep the business asset light, there are no plans currently to set up a car rental business, which is what Uber and Grab did, to ramp up its fleet size.
Asked about competing with a bigger player like Grab, Mr Zou said Ryde has been providing carpooling services since 2014 - a model which was also later adopted by Grab and Uber. 
“We are still here, we are doing something different... What we are focused on is to create value and provide an alternative for our members and users. A target market share for a second player (like Ryde) – in a steady state - should be about 20 to 25 per cent,” he added. 
Mr Zou does not believe in bleeding investors’ funding to gain market share – such as by offering fare discounts and driver incentives – but wants to grow Ryde to be sustainable and profitable.
He is banking on an average 5 per cent cashback for users, personalised driver requests, and advance booking of up to seven days, to win over commuters. The cashback amount will be credited into a digital wallet in the Ryde app, which customers can use to offset  the next fare.
Besides RydeX, another option called RydeExec, which has a fleet of premium cars such as Mercedes-Benz and Toyota Alphard, will also be rolled out on May 2. Fares will start at $18. 
Ryde has a team of 20 staff now, which Mr Zou wants to triple as it ramps up operations. 
Ms Shirli Lim, 28, a part-time private-hire car driver with Grab, said she is considering switching to RydeX because the commission levy is lower. 
“But I will also see which company gives better incentives,” the beauty consultant said. 
Competition in Singapore’s ride hailing market is heating up following Uber’s exit, with Indian auto rickshaw booking app Jugnoo and Indonesia’s Go-Jek also having plans to enter the industry.
Go-Jek is believed to be in talks with Singapore’s  biggest cab operator, ComfortDelGro, on a tie-up. Last year, ComfortDelGro had announced that it would buy a majority stake in Uber’s car rental subsidiary Lion City Rentals. The deal is now in limbo following Uber’s exit from  Singapore.