Honda recalled its Vezel SUV last year because it could catch fire — but Uber continued to lease the cars to drivers in Singapore.
The news comes from a Wall Street Journal report that says internal emails show Uber managers in Singapore were aware of the April 2016 recall but continued to rent the cars to drivers without fixing the defect. It's unclear whether Uber executives in San Francisco or then-CEO Travis Kalanick knew of the recall.
"As soon as we learned of a Honda Vezel from the Lion City Rental fleet catching fire, we took swift action to fix the problem, in close coordination with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority as well as technical experts," an Uber spokesperson said. "But we acknowledge we could have done more—and we have done so."
Uber has since introduced a recall protocol for the company and hired three in-house experts to ensure the ride-hailing company is "fully responsive" to safety recalls, the spokesperson said. Uber has promptly responded to six vehicle recalls since the beginning of 2017.
The spokesperson declined to comment on whether Uber management in Singapore was aware of the recall and continued to lease the vehicles.
An Uber driver's Vezel did catch fire on the job after the ride-hailing giant ignored the recall, according to the report. The incident prompted managers in Singapore to add new safety measures and address the issue after the fact.
Uber bought the cars from a dozen auto importers and not directly from Honda, the report noted. Uber is now only purchasing vehicles from authorized dealers who honor recalls contractually, the spokesperson said.
The fire is one of many crises that unfolded while Kalanick held the to job at Uber.
Uber has been under the spotlight since Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, published a blog post in February where she alleged that she had experienced gender discrimination at the company and was propositioned for sex by a male manager. Other, subsequent reports described a litany problems plaguing Uber's work culture.