Displaying items by tag: ridehailing

Global ride-hailing firm Uber has projected a more measured valuation ahead of its IPO debut on the New York Stock Exchange later this week.

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Uber vows to stop using diesel cars in London by 2019

Written on Sunday, 17 September 2017 11:45

Global ride-hailing incumbent Uber has announced that it will cease using diesel cars in London by the end of 2019. City officials in the English capital are aggressively pursuing initiatives and programs aimed at reducing the number of diesel vehicles being driven in and around the city, with London recording alarming levels of pollution.

Uber have shown their support for this movement by vowing that they will be using no diesel cars for their services by 2019, with a spokesman for the firm claiming that by that stage the vast majority of rides will be in either hybrid or electric vehicles.

Uber says currently almost half of its fleet that embark on journeys in London are undertaken in greener vehicles on the company’s standard low-cost Uber-X service, which enables users to book their journeys on their smartphone device.

A number of leading car manufacturers has announced plans to electrify a large proportion of their new cars. The most notably automaker was Swedish giants Volvo, who earlier this year became the first manufacturer to set a date on when it was phasing out vehicles powered solely by the internal combustion engine.

The UK has followed the lead of France and cities such as Mexico City, Athens and Madrid by declaring that it will prohibit the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040. Uber, which has around 40,000 drivers based in London, has indicated that they will only offer hybrid or electric vehicles on Uber-X by the turn of the decade – but plans to roll-out the program on a nationwide basis by 2022.

Uber’s Head of UK Cities, Fred Jones said Uber shared the concerns expressed by city officials in London in relation to growing problem of air pollution, and said the US-based ride-hailing service was keen to its part.

Jones said: “Air pollution is a growing problem and we’re determined to play our part in tackling it with this bold plan. Londoners already know many cars on our app are hybrids, but we want to go much further and go all electric in the capital.

Uber has endured a difficult number of months with the firm being at the center of a number of salacious scandals ranging from sexual harassment to allegation of bullying, investor pressure eventually led to controversial and high-profile resignation of Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick.

However, Uber has also faced stinging criticism in London, and has been locked in legal rows with trade unions, lawmakers and traditional black cab drivers over working conditions and the legality of its operations. It has also been reported that Uber intend to appeal a decision by a British judge which ruled that the tech company should treat two of its drivers as employees and pay them the minimum wage and holiday pay.

In addition to this, Uber is also waiting on the decision by the capital’s transport regulator who will determine later this month how much the ride-hailing app will need to pay in order to renew its new license.

In Uber’s statement in relation to its phasing out of diesel cars, it also announced its plan to help drivers switch from diesel cars to greener cars with a £150 million-pound fund, which would pay up to 5,000 pounds per upgrade from a petrol or diesel vehicle. Uber will generate the funds for this initiative by taxing an each fare with an additional 35p in London.

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An Estonian taxi startup company has announced its bold ambition to take on global ride-hailing colossus Uber in both London and Paris. Taxify announced that it will initially launch its services in London after it signed up 3,000 private hire taxi drivers following an intensive recruitment process which was needed to meet UK licensing and regulatory requirements.

Its expansion into the UK serves to indicate that Taxify is confident it can replicate the success it has enjoyed in other markets. The Estonian company have already benefited from the uncertainty and scandal that has plagued Uber in the last six months - by stealing a march on them in Eastern Europe and Africa.

London is a saturated market when it comes to taxi services. The English capital is home to the world-famous black cabs and private hire firm Addison Lee, who compete with other ride-hailing apps such as GETT and HAILO, which is now incorporated in Daimler’s MyTaxi.

Uber has a large slice of the market share in London, it boasts over 40,000 drivers and has 3 million London users, with the Silicon Valley based company claiming that users make over 1 million trips a week.

Taxify operates in 25 countries which is in stark contrast to that of Uber, who rollout its services in 600 cities across the world. However, its USP is that it allows passengers to pay marked-down fares which in turn lets drivers retain a bigger share of the profits, whilst it’s run on a much lower cost business model that Uber.

Taxify is directly targeting Uber’s customer base by offering a 15% commission on rides booked through the online platform. Uber charges between 20-25% in London. In addition to this, Taxify will accept cash as well as electronic payments unlike Uber.

The CEO and founder of the Estonian startup Markus Villig insisted its policy is that it will always be cheaper than Uber. Uber has just appointed a new CEO in order to bring much needed stability to the organization. It has endured a hugely difficult year, it has been embroiled in sexual harassment cases, legal disputes over the legality of the services it provides, and co-founder Travis Kalanick was forced to resign as CEO.

Uber’s new boss is former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and he has vowed to take the company public in the next few years, and said the company had to change in order for it to continue to expand. Taxify has enjoyed incredible success since its inception and will be confident it can penetrate the UK market.

It’s based in the Baltics and it first staked out in major cities all across Eastern and Central Europe, before expanding operations in Africa. Its CEO has declared that he believes they will overtake Uber by the end of this year. The taxi company has been boosted by investment from China’s rife-hailing firm Chuxing DiDi and aim to expand into Paris before the end of 2017.

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US cities Seattle and Portland are set to get ‘smarter’ following the launch of a free app which allows users to search for on-demand rides. It will be formally introduced after the completion of a successful three-month test period.

The application which is entitled Migo, is basically a search engine that allows users to search, compare and hail multiple type of ride-hailing transportation like Uber, Lyft, Car2Go and Seattle Yellow Cab, without engaging in the time consuming process of jumping from one application to the other.

The Migo ‘free app’ display real-time data to users and estimates their wait and walk time, whilst in addition to this the applications enables you to search, hail and book a ride service all from within the application.

The new service which is being launched in Seattle and Portland first will be initially only available on the iPhone, but a spokesman for Migo has confirmed that it will be quickly expanding to additional markets such as Android. Seattle and Portland have been identified as ‘key’ cities for the launch of Migo because of their role in the White House Smart Cities Initiative, which was launched in 2015. The program was specifically designed to accelerate the delivery of smart city solutions which includes eco-friendly transportation options that best leverage the cities resources and infrastructure.

The CEO and founder of Migo, Jeff Warren claimed that both cities were the ideal locations to engage in testing on innovative transportation services such as its free application.

Warren said: "Seattle and Portland are hotbeds for testing new transportation services and models, like car-share, ride-share, carpooling, bikes and taxi services. Migo was designed to help residents first discover and then easily choose their best ride option – whether that means closest, cheapest, most environmentally friendly or simply the coolest option to get from place to place. And with the rapidly expanding populations of both Seattle and Portland, we see Migo as a key partner to help keep the cities moving."

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UAE ride-hailing services company Careem has invested $500,000 in a start-up entity which focuses on connecting commuters with private buses in the Egyptian capital city of Cairo. Careem, which is seen as Middle East rival to global ride-hailing colossus Uber, acquired the minority stake in SWVL after weeks of negotiations. It has also been disclosed that in addition to the investment, CEO and co-founder of Careem, Magnus Olsson will also join the board of SWVL.

SWVL is only three-months old, but has already generated the interest of prospective investors after making an immediate impact in the transportation sector in Egypt. Careem, which operates in 12 countries, mainly in the Middle East will look to accelerate SWVL operations, although it declined to disclose the exact size of its minority stake in the organization.

SWVL was founded by a former Careem executive in April, and the company provides a bus transportation service which enables passengers to reserve and pay their fare through SWVL’s mobile application. The application formulates and maps the shortest journey time home based on the passenger’s location and destination by identifying the nearest bus station that travels along fixed routes.

Careem CEO expressed his desire to see the Egyptian start-up develop quickly, and he believes the best way of enabling that is by keeping the entity independent. Olsson said, “We want them to run and learn and develop at a very high pace and high agility and we believe the best way for them to do that is to stay independent.”

Careem announced last month that it had raised $500m from investors such as German car manufacturer Daimler and Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding. It said the investment would help them accelerate their expansion plans. SWVL is unlike Careem and Uber in the sense that it isn’t an on-demand service, but it has a strong foundation of over 50,000 passenger and 200 buses using the mobile application.

Chief executive of SWVL, Mostafa Kondil said its primary objective is to really improve the product and disclosed that it is targeting 300,000 monthly trips by the end of 2017. Analysts have suggested that SWVL will utilize the investment made by Careem in order to increase its workforce, develop new app features and expand into other cities beyond Cairo, and to Middle Eastern and Asian countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Pakistan next year.

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Uber Technologies recently announced that it’s selling its China operations to Chinese rival Didi Chuxing, marking the end of an expensive price war. The sale frees Uber up to focus on other markets that could be popular for it, and also gives it the freedom for a potential IPO. Following the acquisition, Didi will be valued at $35 billion. Didi’s current value is $28 billion, which puts the Uber China sale at $7 billion.

Uber and Didi Chuxing have been heavily competing the past few years for leadership in China’s fast-growing ride-hailing market. The San Francisco-based company has lost $2 billion in China in two years, according to a report by Bloomberg, which prompted investors to pressure Uber to make the deal with Didi Chuxing. Under the agreement, Didi will reportedly invest $1 billion in Uber’s global company.

In a statement, Didi said that it will be purchasing Uber’s brand, business and data in China. Uber Technologies and Uber China’s other shareholders, including search giant Baidu, will reportedly receive a 20 percent economic stake in the combined company. Cheng Wei, Didi’s founder and CEO, and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, will join each other’s boards.

“Didi Chuxing and Uber have learned a great deal from each other over the past two years,” said Cheng in a statement. “This agreement with Uber will set the mobile transportation industry on a healthier, more sustainable oath of growth at a higher level.”

The United States and Canada, as well as other developed nations, have proven to be profitable places for Uber and its operations. But the company is said to be struggling in developing markets, undercutting its progress globally. Reports suggest that Uber’s losses in China could be the reason behind Uber’s potential IPO.

Arun Sundarajan, a New York University professor, said: “The biggest existential threat to Uber over the last two months was that in China they were losing capital in a way that potentially threatened the rest of their worldwide operations. The fact is that in the short term it may be seen as a loss, but in the long term it’s a good move. Now they can focus on the rest of the world.”

For example, now that Uber is pulling out of China, it can now focus on other regions where it’s currently fighting for market share. Uber is competing against the likes of Grab in Southeast Asia, Ola in India and Lyft in the U.S.

The deal with Didi, however, is subject to government approval, in which competition will be considered. For example, the combination of the top two players in the market could raise regulatory scrutiny, and officials will have to determine the range of competition. “The ministry of commerce has to define the size of the market and see if the car-hailing business Didi and Uber are offering can be replaced by similar services,” said Deng Zhisong, senior partner at Beijing-based law firm Dentons. “If you count taxi services and public transportation, the car-hailing sector will not have a market share that significant.”

After the deal with Uber, Didi’s value will be approximately $35 billion, according to sources. Uber Technologies has been valued at almost $68 billion. Sundarajan said the arranged acquisition has “removed a big roadblock for an Uber IPO. Losing money in China would’ve given many pre-IPO investors pause,” he said.

This isn’t the first change to its business structure Didi has made in recent years. In 2015, the company joined with rival Kuaidi, creating a massive Chinese homegrown company which Uber had to compete with. After the merger, the company backed China’s most valuable internet businesses including Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings.

Apple has also invested $1 billion in Didi, in a round that valued the company at around $28 billion. Even more promising for the Chinese giant is that the government recently passed a new rule legalizing ride-hailing services, allowing more room for Didi to grow.

But there is a chance that Didi’s purchase of Uber’s China business could complicate its alliance with other ride-hailing startups around the world. For instance, Didi had an agreement with Lyft, Ola and Grab to create a global force to take on Uber. The U.S. firm has been envied because of its ability to reach into China where few U.S. technology firms have managed to succeed.

RHB Research Institute in Hong Kong analyst Li Yujie said China is “such a tough market, in terms of regulation, competition and culture; they [Uber] faced challenges on so many fronts. Cooperating with rather than fighting Didi might not be such a bad idea,” she said.

 

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