MVL, which owns the ride-hailing service Tada, last week closed an investment of USD 5 million led by South Korean vehicle parts manufacturer Central. With the fresh capital, the firm plans to produce and sell 10,000 electronic tuktuks in the Cambodian market by 2021.
“We have observed that Cambodia is a market with a young and tech-savvy population who can accept advanced and eco-friendly electric vehicles,” MVL CEO Kay Woo told KrASIA. So the company decided to “deliver the best e-tuktuk and tech service to Cambodia before considering further expansion to other markets.”
MVL announced plans to manufacture its first electric vehicle in June. “We remain ready to drive wider adoption with local partners if there is demonstrable demand and need for our electric vehicle and connected raid-hailing service,” said Woo. Tada drivers will receive the new vehicles first. “They are the biggest driving force for our growth,” he added.
Tada operates in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Singapore and collects data related to driving, electric vehicles, and batteries. With the introduction of e-tuktuks—which are built using a “software-centric” approach—MVL hopes to secure their drivers’ brand loyalty and kickstart a mobility innovation in Southeast Asia. Sales schedules will be announced soon.
“Eventually, we won’t limit e-tuktuks only to Tada drivers, our focus is building the mobility ecosystem that anybody can join and contribute [to],” said Woo.
Southeast Asia’s mobility ecosystem is rapidly growing and spans across multiple verticals, from car-sharing services to self-driving vehicles. Ride-hailing remains the core business for major players like Grab and Gojek. Globally, VCs invested USD 11.8 billion in mobility startups in the first quarter of 2020.