GERMAN TAXI DRIVERS RALLY: German taxi drivers protested against Uber in June 2014. In August 2014, Berlin authorities ruled that the lift-sharing service must cease operations. Image: AP/Joerg Carstensen
FRANKFURT, Germany - US car service Uber is planning an aggressive expansion in Germany despite a backlash from cities like Berlin and Hamburg, which have questioned its right to operate in highly-regulated markets dominated by traditional taxis.
Uber, which allows users to summon rides on their smartphones, announced late on Tuesday (August 26) that it was experiencing "huge demand" for its services in German cities where it is not currently operating.
It plans to move into Cologne and Stuttgart later in 2014, and is also eyeing Nuremberg, Bonn, Essen, Dortmund and Potsdam. From August to December 2014, it expects to double the number of subscribed users in Germany, after growing fivefold to date later this year, the company said.
UBER BANNED IN BERLIN
Currently, Uber is operating in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt and Duesseldorf. But it has run into trouble in the German capital and northern port city of Hamburg, which have banned the service over concerns that drivers lack licenses to carry passengers and do not have full insurance coverage.
Uber appealed the rulings and has carried on operating in the two cities pending a final verdict. Other German cities are also considering a ban, according to media reports.
Founded in 2009 and valued at the equivalent of R193-billion based on its latest funding round in June, Uber Technologies Inc describes itself as a marketplace that puts people in contact with each other, not a transportation service.
Drivers have to be over a certain age, have a valid driving license, and undergo background checks before they can pick up passengers.
Uber has faced regulatory obstacles in a number of European cities as well as legal challenges from taxi companies hoping to keep new competition out. Taxi drivers across Europe caused chaos in June by protesting against the service.
Uber was banned by a Paris court earlier this month and told to change its invoicing system.
UBER IN SA
Is Uber’s mobile phone app just a “new toy” on the market or does it have the potential to change South Africa’s cab industry? South Africa was Uber’s only African outpost until August 2014, when it reached Lagos in Nigeria.
Since its launch in 2009, Uber has spread to 145 cities across the globe - much to the alarm of cab drivers in London, New York and beyond.
But how will it affect South African taxi cab drivers?
News24 finds out..