While Uber continues to expand throughout most of the world, cultural impasses are proving to be an obstacle for the ridesharing powerhouse in some regions.
Take Frankfurt, Germany, for example — a city recently explored by The New York Times as one from which Uber was all but pushed out.
The outlet shares that, in early November, Uber closed down its operations in the city after just 18 months of being in place there. After its European low-cost UberX equivalent — UberPOP — was outlawed in Germany in March, Uber attempted to recruit licensed taxi drivers. When they refused, attests the NYT story, the writing was on the wall for Uber.
“It’s not part of the German culture to do something like” what Uber did, Hasan Kurt, the owner of a licensed taxi business in Frankfurt, told NYT. “We don’t like it, the government doesn’t like it and our customers don’t like it.”
As the NYT story goes on to point out, Frankfurt is just one of a number of areas throughout Europe from which Uber has been forced to retreat, rather than expand. The service lasted less than two years in the German cities of Hamburg and Düsseldorf, while in Amsterdam, Uber was compelled to cease operations of UberPOP.
Taxi operators in cities such as Paris and Madrid, NYT shares, have limited Uber's prospects through violent opposition, and regulators in London are considering implementing changes that could greatly hinder the service in the British capital.
The NYT story posits that Uber's experience in Frankfurt could serve as a lesson for the company moving forward, related to — among other factors — the understanding of regulations outside the U.S.
“If you want to be successful in Germany, you have to understand the regulation,” Martin Fassnacht, a professor at the Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany, told the outlet. “Uber should have taken that more seriously.”
For its part, Uber — which, in Germany, still operates in Berlin and Munich — has asked the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, to intervene on its behalf within the continent.
“Have we made mistakes? Absolutely,” Mark MacGann, Uber’s head of European policy, told NYT. “But the current system in Germany artificially protects incumbents who think they have the right to own the market.”