Blockchain Ride-hailing Startup MVL Lands $15M To Launch EV Tuk-tuk

The three-wheeled colorful auto-rickshaws called “tuk-tuks” are a popular mode of public transportation in many Southeast Asian countries. They are prized for their practicality and economy in countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Laos.

 However, these three-wheelers usually run on fossil fuels, which contribute to air pollution in the region. According to the World Health Organization, Southeast Asia’s air pollution burden is among the highest in the world.

 One company that’s trying to solve this problem is Singapore-headquartered MVL, which will soon roll out its first electric vehicle (EV) – a tuk-tuk called Onion T1.

 The electric three-wheeler was developed in collaboration with MVL’s strategic investors and partners including Central, a South Korean automotive parts manufacturer.

 MVL just raised US$15 million in a series B funding round led by existing investor Central, with participation from Trive Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm based in Singapore.

 The fresh funds will be used for Onion T1’s launch via the company’s MVL Energy unit. The new EV will be first added to the fleet of Tada – MVL’s blockchain-powered ride-hailing and delivery service – in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

 Tada also operates in Singapore and Vietnam, and claims to have an estimated 100,000 drivers and 890,000 users.

 MVL- short for “mass vehicle ledger” – is an incentive-based mobility blockchain protocol that records data such as transactions, movements, accidents, and maintenance of vehicles on the company’s network. Users can interact with MVL’s mobility data ecosystem on the blockchain through Tada and other upcoming connected services.

 “As a company, 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,” said Kay Woo, MVL’s chief executive officer.

 The Onion T1 will also lower energy costs of traditional tuk-tuks to just US$60 a month, according to the company’s internal estimations, which are based on Phnom Penh’s market conditions project. The EV will be assembled in Kandal, which is expected to generate 380 new jobs in the Cambodian province.

 Currently, MVL is taking pre-orders for the vehicle, with the first production units expected to be available by the end of 2021. The batteries, which can power the Onion T1’s for up to 100 kilometer, will be sold separately.

 The company will also install mega battery-swapping stations, which will be located across Phnom Penh based on MVL’s simulations and analyses of existing ride-hailing data.

MVL launched Tada in Singapore in July 2018. In November that year, Tada signed up over 2,000 drivers from local transport companies such as ComfortDelGro, Premier, SMRT, and Trans-cab to its blockchain-based platform for licensed taxis.

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