Ride-Hailing Startup Kapten Takes Aim At Uber In The UK


Kapten, a ride-hailing startup that’s backed by Daimler and BMW, has started operating in London and has put up ads targeted at Uber about how it avoids taxes in the U.K., according to a report by TechCrunch.

Kapten was launched in France in 2012 and quickly expanded. It obtained a license from London’s transport regulator TfL, and it will operate its private-hire vehicle service in the city.

The new billboard ads say, “Others avoid paying VAT in the UK — that’s not uber cool.” Kapten says it pays local taxes in every market that it operates. Using Kapten, the ad says, “might just be your best decision today.”

Kapten said Uber has faced scrutiny for not paying the U.K. government taxes and also for avoiding the value-added tax (VAT) in addition to its service fee, by having a Dutch location as a headquarters.

“Uber had an estimated £1bn of ride bookings in the U.K. in 2018. If 20 percent VAT was added to its 25 percent commission, the U.K. Exchequer would get an additional £50m per year,” Kapten said.

Kapten will be available in London’s zones 1 to 5, and it’s offering half-off fares on rides. Kapten said that on the average, its fares are 20 percent cheaper than those of its rivals.

“Trips in the congestion charge zone will be at least £2 cheaper than Uber due to congestion and clean-air fees,” Kapten said.

Mariusz Zabrocki, London general manager of Kapten, said it was time for a change.

“There has been one dominant, over-confident ride-hailing player in London and it’s time to shake things up. We believe London’s private-hire drivers, commuters and residents deserve better. Each time a Londoner takes an Uber ride, 60p is lost that could finance the NHS, schools and other parts of the U.K.”

Kapten offers three different types of cars for its riders: Standard, Sedan and Van, although the latter two are only available in France at the moment.