GrabTaxi rebrands as Grab, eyes further expansion

Chrisee Dela Paz
The app company's goals go far beyond taxi-hailing

EXPANSION. Grab has evolved from a taxi-booking application to Southeast Asia’s largest land transport company. Photo by Grab Philippines

SINGAPORE, Singapore – With Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing boom, Grab, formerly known as GrabTaxi, has evolved with strategic rebranding and a growing platform of on-demand services.

In a regional launch in Singapore on Thursday, January 28, GrabTaxi rebranded itself as Grab to reflect its new range of services.

Its new company name says that it no longer only offers pre-arranged taxi rides – the service it started out in 2012. (READ: GrabTaxi PH launches GrabPay, GrabHeli)

The new Grab encompasses all its services: taxis (GrabTaxi), private car services (GrabCar), motorcycles (GrabBike), social carpooling (GrabHitch), and last mile delivery (GrabExpress), under one umbrella brand. 

“We’ve grown over the years – and we’re now much more than a taxi app. This new brand is an important evolution that represents our goal to outserve our customers,” Grab Group CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan said during the regional launch.

Dominance in Southeast Asia

Since its establishment in 2012, Grab has evolved from a taxi-booking application to Southeast Asia’s largest land transport company.

Data from Grab

Grab now has over 200,000 drivers and more than 11 million mobile downloads. (READ: Could this be GrabBike’s last ride in the Philippines?)

The company’s data show that in mid-2015, it experienced 35% average monthly growth in GrabCar rides and a 75% average monthly growth in GrabBike rides across the region.

These figures are encouraging as Grab aims to move far ahead of other ride-hailing companies like Uber. (READ: Uber plans APEC region expansion despite rough ride)

“We have set the benchmark in the industry, with the most number of transport services that cater to all price points, all available in one app,” Tan said.

Grab’s CEO said his company will “grow from the current 28 cities across 6 Southeast Asian countries,” but did not specify where.

Data from Grab

“What I can say is we are focusing all our energy in providing better transport services in the region,” Tan said.

Grab’s regional focus allows the company to navigate the Southeast Asian terrain smoothly, helping the firm to win over traditional taxi companies.

Tan said when it comes to profit, “Grab will sustain the growth in 2016 and continue shooting for the sky.”

Beefed up services

With its new branding, Grab has also beefed up its smartphone app with more user-friendly features, including personalized pickup and dropoff locations, GrabPay mobile wallet, and GrabWork.

GrabPay allows passengers to go cashless, either via credit or debit cards. 

GrabWork, meanwhile, is aimed at business professionals who can now tag their rides and track receipts easily for expense claims purposes.

According to Tan, their company is also investing in engineering centers, with one each in the United States, Beijing, China, and Singapore. 

STRATEGIC REBRANDING. Grab co-founders Anthony Tan (middle) and Tan Hooi Ling (left) talk to over 50 journalists to discuss their startup's strategy. Photo by Chrisee Dela Paz/Rappler

On a ‘friendlier’ road

To help win the Southeast Asian market, Grab VP for Marketing Cheryl Goh said her company is taking a friendlier road than its rivals.

While some of Grab’s rivals have developed a reputation for being combative, Goh said they are leaning towards a “more open and collaborative working environment” with regulators.

In the Philippines, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday ordered Grab to cease operations of GrabBike until proper guidelines are promulgated.

“We’re not going to fight the government. We will, instead, discuss with them how to go about it. I think all of us have the same end-goal: Provide better transport for the commuters. It’s not all about profit,” Goh said.

While Uber hurdles legal battles in Germany and the United States, among others, GrabTaxi has avoided disputes with transport regulators to “provide as many public transportation options to commuters as possible,” Goh added.

According to Goh, Grab’s end-goal is to influence people to make ride-hailing a daily habit. – Rappler.com