Uber tries to get German cab drivers on board with UberTaxi launch

Uber has introduced its UberTaxi service in Berlin and Hamburg, after courts in the German cities upheld bans on the company’s UberBlack and UberPop (a.k.a UberX) services on Friday.

UberTaxi is a service that lets users hail an official cab, rather than a car driven by some random person. It debuted in London earlier this year after traditional cabbies complained about Uber, arguing that it’s unfair for [company]Uber[/company]’s drivers to operate without the training and licensing that traditional drivers need to have by law.

Cabbies in Germany have also taken on Uber with vigor, and the Berlin and Hamburg courts confirmed on Friday that Uber indeed did not comply with German laws. It is surely no coincidence that Uber has now opened up UberTaxi in those two cities, perhaps giving it a way to stay legally operational there – as long as taxi drivers take up the offer. Other platforms such as Taxi.eu already offer them something similar.

Here’s how Uber Germany spokesman Fabien Nestmann framed the move:

Uber is committed to increasing the choice for consumers and drivers and helping them make personal mobility more efficient. Opening our platform for taxis in Germany with UberTaxi, our on demand service, is another step towards that goal.

The company said it would appeal against the Berlin ban and challenge the Hamburg ban on constitutional grounds — it’s arguing that the German constitution guarantees free choice for consumers. Nonetheless, Uber also said it would “adjust” its high-end UberBlack service to meet the requirements of the Berlin authorities.

“As a matter of course we respect the German legal system and work to adapt our services to comply with the regulatory framework,” Nestmann said. “We remain convinced, however, that there should be an open dialogue on how the current provisions of the German Transportation Act and how it can be adapted to embrace the technical possibilities of the 21st century.”

Uber was banned across Germany for a few weeks from August to September, in the context of a case in the Frankfurt courts. That temporary injunction — which Uber ignored — was lifted a couple of weeks ago, but the case is still underway.

This article was updated at 7.55am PT to include Nestmann’s quotes.