One year ago, Singapore-based car rental portal Drive.SG had announced that it managed to secure seed funding of US157,000 to make its core service more accessible. Today, the company made public that it has raised S$1 million (US$788,000) for its Series A round from Malaysian publicly listed company Insas Berhad.

Co-Founders of Drive.SG (L-R) Adrian Lee, Paul Tan

Co-founders of Drive.SG (L-R) Adrian Lee, Paul Tan

According to its official website, Insas Berhad is the investment holding and management company for Malaysia-based Insas Group. The Group has businesses in stock broking, investment holding and trading, project and credit financing, project investment and development, IT consultancy, manufacturing and trading, wine merchant, high fashion products, F&B outlets, and of course, car rental services.

With this latest injection of funds, Drive.SG will look towards expanding the online car rental platform and transforming it into an e-transport portal for Asia, starting with Malaysia and the Philippines. The e-transport portal, scheduled for launch mid-2014, will focus on car rental, chartered transport and long-term leasing.

Adrian Lee, Co-founder, Drive.SG said in an official statement that the company’s goal is to provide both, locals and travellers with a “familiar digital platform” to fulfill transport needs across Asia. He then told e27, “We like the land transport segment and are excited to deliver better ways for people to get from A to B.”

He explained that car rentals are expected to be less popular with consumers in Malaysia, than in Singapore. “Our focus there (regional expansions) will be more on corporate accounts and regional travellers,” said Lee.

In every market, one niche service will be far more common than another type of service, added Lee, who gave the example of chartered transport being more popular than car rentals.

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What about existent competition in Malaysia and the Philippines? J Angelo Racoma, Senior Correspondent, e27 shared that the Philippines does not see rife competition as of yet. Some alternatives to traditional car booking include Avis’s online site and hertzPhilippines, which can be found in Malaysia as well. “Here (in the Philippines), if you have money, (you) might as well buy a car,” he added.

“The land transport scene is an industry ripe for change and possibly in ways we cannot even begin to imagine. That said, we hardly see the local players as competitors. I see them as more of future partners whom we could work with to bring an interesting mash of services to local residents and travellers alike,” explained Lee.

Launched in 2011, the online portal serves 15,000 customers in Singapore. Paul Tan, Co-founder, Drive.SG added that they aim to bring such convenience over to the aforementioned countries, while at the same time overcoming language barriers, challenge of over-charging, and the lack of transparency allegedly prevalent in some Asian markets. The company also recently launched a mobile app for users in Singapore.