Ride app services battle motorcycle taxis in Vietnam

George Tzokas
By George Tzokas
June 29, 2017World News
Ride app services battle motorcycle taxis in Vietnam

Ride share companies like Uber and Grab have been taking over the transport market in Vietnam’s crowded cities with their mototaxis.

The streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Mihn City were once the exclusive domain of Xe Om, the traditional motorcycle cab—a rickshaw with an engine.

Those days are ending, as app-based ride share services move in.

Uber, and its Malaysian competitor Grab, have seen an opportunity and are seizing it.

Uber and Grab’s cycle-powered arm, GrabBike, offer services traditional Xe-Om drivers cannot match.

“Only older people or those who are in a hurry use traditional Xe Om,” Nguyen Quang Trung a GrabBike driver.

“For young people and people who have time, they never use Xe Om.”

While there is a wait, Uber and GrabBike offer the convenience of door-to-door service.

21-year-old video game designer Tran Thuc Anh says GrabBike costs her half as much as using Xe Om did.

“GrabBike is very convenient, I just need to be online to book a bike without going around to look for a traditional Xe Om, it’s therefore very convenient.”

Also, fares are decided upfront with an online service. Passengers like knowing they won’t get cheated.

“There are a lot of people who need this service as passengers and they can’t afford the price that has been charging them and it’s not fair for them when you travel a short distance and you will be overcharged,” explained Nguyen Tuan Anh, chairman of Grab Vietnam

“So GrabBike brings transparency to that and that’s why customers love it. They know that they are not being cheated by the drivers and that should be the way, that’s the product that the market wants.”

This would seem to be the case. GrabBike launched in 2014 with 100 drivers,. Now it has more than 50,000 and adds about 100 each day, according to Nguyen Tuan Anh.

Xe-Om drivers are losing business. Some drivers report losing two-thirds of their income.

Some Xe-Om drivers are retaliating—physically.

Grab Vietnam’s Nguyen Tuan Anh says over 100 of his drivers have been attacked by Xe-On pilots.

Once, police had to break up a riot between Xe-Om and GrabBike drivers outside a bus station in Ho Chi Minh.

Similar problems have been reported in Thailand and Indonesia.

Many Xe-On drivers simply switched to Uber or Grab. Some reject the lower wages offered by the online services.

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