Singapore ride-hailing firm MVLLABS raises $15m Series B, launches first EV for SE Asia

The ONiON T1

MVLLABS Pte Ltd, the company behind the zero-commission, blockchain-based ride-hailing service TADA, has raised $15 million in a Series B round led by the South Korean automotive parts manufacturer CENTRAL, an existing investor.

The round also saw participation from Singapore-based TRIVE Ventures.

In 2018, MVLLABS launched TADA in Singapore. Subsequently, the company expanded to Vietnam and Cambodia and now has an estimated 100,000 drivers and 890,000 users across the three markets.

With the new round, MVLLABS’s total funding stands at nearly $25 million. The company last raised an extended Series A round in May 2020, led by Shinhan Bank, one of South Korea’s largest commercial lenders by assets.

The company said it will channel the fresh funds towards expanding its mobility ecosystem, starting with the launch of its first electric vehicle (EV), the ONiON T1.

Jointly developed with CENTRAL, the ONiON T1 will first be added to TADA’s fleet of vehicles in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where it currently offers both ride-hailing and delivery services. TADA Cambodia has seen a 50% increase in deliveries for the month of March, reported MVLLABS.

According to the media release, ONiON EV will lower energy costs for traditional three-wheeled vehicles, or tuk-tuks, to just $60 a month, bringing greater savings for tuk-tuk drivers across the streets of Southeast Asia.

The launch will be accompanied by the installation of ONiON mega battery swapping stations, located across Phnom Penh based on MVLLABS’s simulations and analyses of existing ride-hailing data.

The swappable battery subscription service is said to bring convenience, affordable vehicle ownership and lower operational costs to drivers. Batteries, which can power the T1 for up to 100km, will be sold separately from the T1 vehicles.

“We have been focused on bridging the technology gap to make mobility affordable, and this launch paves the way for expansion into other EV models. We now look forward to furthering our mission to make mobility environmentally and socially sustainable,” said Kay Woo, CEO of MVLLABS Pte. Ltd.

The ONiON T1 will be assembled in Cambodia, following MVLLABS securing the Qualified Investment Project (“QIP”) status, from the Cambodian government. This project is expected to create 380 new job opportunities.

MVLLABS is currently taking pre-orders for the vehicles, with the first production units expected to be available by the end of 2021.

Southeast Asia shows promising signs of future EV market growth and development, specifically in countries within ASEAN, which are increasing model availability, purchase incentives, and charging infrastructure investments.

Local governments have been drafting supporting policies to make EVs more affordable, which will ultimately encourage ride-hailing and help fleet owners adopt EVs.

There has been an increase in collaboration between governments, automakers and electricity providers as incentives will drive renewed interest from automakers and component manufacturers alike. This, in turn, increases the adoption of EVs.

As a result, ASEAN Electric Vehicle Market is poised to grow at a CAGR of 10% by 2025, per a Mordor Intelligence report.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.