Grab says it has expanded an existing partnership with Hyundai Motor Group to drive the adoption of electric vehicles in Southeast Asia. Both companies will explore pilots to ease the use of such vehicles for Grab drivers and delivery partners, such as offering leasing programmes on a "battery-as-a-service" model.
These initiatives would aim to lower the barriers of entry, including reducing the total cost of ownership, the partners said in a joint statement Tuesday. The alliance would include Hyundai's affiliate Kia.
Citing a 2020 survey of its drivers, Grab said costs, lack of charging locations, and long wait times to charge vehicles were top concerns that pulled drivers back from adopting electric vehicles. It added that its partnership with Hyundai would aim to address some of these issues through pilots of new service offerings, such as leasing electric vehicles on a car-as-a-service model and electric vehicle financing.
Both partners would jointly develop a roadmap to drive the adoption of such vehicles across Southeast Asia, with the first pilot programs to begin later this year in Singapore, before these were extended to Indonesia and Vietnam.
Plans also were underway to run a feasibility study to glean deeper insights on barriers to the ownership and adoption of electric vehicles. Grab said it hoped the insights could be further tapped by governments and other industry partners to establish policies and best practices to ease daily operations for ride-hailing and delivery drivers.
Partners since 2018, Grab and Hyundai had worked on various electric vehicle tests in the region, including Singapore in 2019, when 200 of Hyundai's Kona electric vehicle were deployed as part of the GrabRentals fleet. The move was part of a 2018 partnership with SP Group that also analysed usage patterns and behaviours to enhance the accessibility of charging stations, to better match their locations to drivers' breaks.
Grab also launched electric vehicle initiatives in Indonesia last year, when the GrabCar Elektrik fleet comprising Hyundai's IONIQ vehicles was introduced at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport. The ride-hailing operator further worked with the Indonesian government to align its roadmap with local policies, as part of efforts to support the country's aim to have electric vehicles account for 20% of local transportation network by 2025.
According to Grab, 31% of its vehicles available for ride-hailing services in Singapore were electric or hybrid vehicles. The company had invested more than $200 million into such vehicles as part of its GrabRental fleet since 2016.
In a separate statement Tuesday, it said passengers could opt in to donate money towards green projects each time they booked a Grab ride. Calling it the "carbon offset", the feature would be available in its mobile app for users in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand from next month, when passengers could contribute $0.10 per ride.
Collected amounts would be used to fund various reforestation and conservation projects operated by local non-government organisations, Grab said.
It added that the feature would be expanded to other markets in the region at a later stage.