Ridesharing

Ridesharing Entrants Eye London Market Amid Uber’s Uncertain Fate

Uber banned from operating in London

Uber’s rivals are looking to make their move in London as the rideshare giant is looking at a ban in the city.

On Wednesday (Nov. 27), Uber was declared “not fit and proper” to operate in London — the ride-hailing company’s largest European market — and now has three weeks to appeal. While the company can still operate while it appeals, its rivals are looking to take advantage of Uber’s problems.

“London needs ride-hailing, but we don’t need Uber,” said French ride-hailing app Kapten, which launched in London earlier this year. “We believe it is the duty of a responsible ride-hailing operator to work cooperatively with regulators,” said Bolt, another rideshare newbie in London. In fact, hours after the city announced its ban on Uber, Bolt sent customers an email claiming “news about the other ride-hailing app in London has brought us thousands of new sign-ups already.”

And Ola, a ride-hailing company from India, said it’s going to be operational in London “in the coming weeks.” The company has been entering different portions of the U.K. in the past year, and it’s already started signing up drivers. So far, the company has raised $3.5 billion, and it wants to get about 50,000 drivers in London.

It remains to be seen how much of a threat these companies will be to Uber, which boasts 45,000 drivers and 3.5 million passengers in London. Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, said over the summer he’s not concerned. “The new competition that we’re seeing in London are frankly competitors that we’re familiar with,” he said. “So far we’re not seeing anything in London that’s a surprise or unexpected.”

But Pedro Pacheco, senior research director for automotive and smart mobility at Gartner, noted that “Uber’s growth in London has shown the need for ride-hailing services. Uber’s possible ban from this city can open growth opportunities for competitors as there will be customer demand to be satisfied.”

Uber is also facing competition from the local black cab industry, with taxi apps like Israel’s Gett and Germany’s Free Now providing an Uber-like service for traditional licensed taxis.

“Black cabs have been moving people in and around London for centuries,” Andy Batty, Free Now’s chief operating officer, said. “We expect that this decision from TfL will highlight that Free Now is a superior option to get around the city safely and quickly.”

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