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

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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 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.

One Response to “Uber tries to get German cab drivers on board with UberTaxi launch”

  1. Just Aguy

    This is an old play from the Uber Playbook: launch UberTaxi when it receives significant blowback in a new market. Uber ran the same play in London in June

    Isn’t it ironic that Uber hasn’t offered UberTaxi service in ANY of the 100+ new US markets it’s entered since the launch of it’s UberX service. And in the 5 US markets (Chicago, Boston, SF, DC and NYC) UberTaxi was used a gateway to gain entry into the markets, and was quickly relegated to third class status. Then after launching UberX in these 5 markets, it used it’s customers list to promote UberX by offering credits, free rides etc that can’t be used for UberX.

    Uber can surge price UberX fares and charges 20% commission to the drivers, but with UberTaxi it can only charge the normal taxi rates and no commission, only a convenience fee to riders and CC processing fee to drivers.

    Uber is a VC backed corporate vulture preying on the fragmented ground transportation industry, while thumbing it’s nose at the weak kneed regulators. It’s not only preying on the licensed and commercially insured operators, it’s now putting it’s Own Full-time UberX drivers on Food Stamps. Uber has cut its UberX rates three times in the less than a year while jacking up the commission from 5% to 20%, and deducting an additional $1/Ride for Safe Rides Fee.

    It’s already started charging the New Drivers 25% commission in SF. There is no doubt that Uber will be soon rolling out the 25% comm in ALL the Markets for New Drivers that it’s recruiting at the clip of 50,000 per month These New Drivers are being lured in by fraudulent Cl Ads promising $1000/week And in the meantime experienced good drivers are leaving, holding protests, and revolting against its policies!

    Visit the independent forum for diverse perspectives on all issues affecting Ride-sharing drivers.