Now a market leader with 1,200 vehicles in Singapore, ComfortDelGro Rent-A-Car began its operations in 1981, when things looked very different on the island’s roads. Here, RICHARD TEO, the company’s CEO, reminisces about those times – and dreams of a Ferrari in his future.
How did you get started in the car industry in Singapore?
Back in the late 1970s when I’d been working for only a few years, a friend asked if I was interested in a sales management position at Avis. I didn’t own a car, so I jumped at the offer since it meant getting a company car. A few years later, the same friend and I were invited to start a new car-rental division for Ken-Air. I’ve stayed in the industry ever since.
Have cars and roads changed a great deal from when you started?
The car rental business needs affordable workhorses and back then, the Japanese and Koreans were making exactly that: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Datsun and Hyundai were the norm. Continental cars were reserved for chauffeur-driven services. Cars didn’t have power steering, power windows, retractable mirrors or many of the other features that are common today.
The only expressway then was the PIE; the ECP was still under construction. There was frequent flooding, especially along Bukit Timah Road. During heavy thunderstorms, we would pray that none of our customers were stranded somewhere.
Back then, there was no ERP (Electronic Road Pricing system). We had the Area Licensing Scheme, and the CBD was a Restricted Zone. I still remember motorists queuing at petrol stations to buy a paper licence in order to enter the CBD or RZ during morning peak hours. Things have changed so much.
What makes your company stand out from the other businesses offering a similar service in Singapore?
Our motto at ComfortDelGro Rent-A-Car is “reliability with a difference”. That’s how the company, from management to staff, ensures a high level of service.
We offer a wide range of vehicle models and we provide in-house support services to ensure our response to customers’ needs is always prompt and reliable. This includes a dedicated team of seven mechanics who maintain our fleet of over 1,200 vehicles, and a team of “car doctors” who provide round-the-clock service for vehicles that have broken down. During servicing, we offer replacement vehicles of the same capacity or higher.
What’s your favourite stretch of road in Singapore?
Generally people think driving in Singapore is more a necessity than a pleasure, but I’ve discovered a few spots on the island (during off-peak hours, of course). My favourite is the smooth and breezy drive along Changi Coast Road.
Did you go to the F1?
Not this year, as I was away on a business trip. I did attend the inaugural night race last year. My favourite driver is “Iceman” Kimi Raikkonen, though I generally admire all the drivers for their courage and endurance.
What’s your dream car?
I’m a pragmatic guy; I took care of family and home first, before finally indulging in a BMW 325i convertible last year. It isn’t my ultimate dream car, but it’s a good standby until I get the Ferrari!
From now until 31 December, ComfortDelGro Rent-A-Car is offering a special price of $165 nett on weekend rentals (Friday to Monday). The promotion applies to 1,500cc-1,600cc vehicles, and to driving in Singapore only.
For more information about daily, monthly and long-term car rentals,
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