For city-dwellers, Uber is ubiquitous. Millions of Uber rides happen every day, while the war between the ride-hailing app and taxi drivers is being played out in congested cities around the world.
In a bid to compete with the rise of on-demand taxi apps, London taxis introduced contactless payments last year to make journeys more convenient. The cabs are also moving to an increasingly high-tech, sustainable approach following the opening of a £300m factory as part of plans to ‘go green’, rivalling Uber’s similar fleet of electric cars.
However, the tech giant has had a tumultuous few months. In January the #DeleteUber movement went viral, based on the perception that the company was not doing enough to protest Trump’s travel ban.
The app was thrust deeper into turmoil with accounts of workplace sexism and sexual harassment, followed by the departure of company president Jeff Jones, a marketing expert hired to help bolster its reputation, who quit after just six months on the job, citing a difference in “beliefs and approach to leadership”.
This spate of scandals has given its competitors the opportunity to position themselves as ethical alternatives. Nobody more so, perhaps, than arch-rival Lyft whose president declared this week that the firm is “woke” in the face of relentless controversy surrounding Uber.
Uber is confronted with an array of challengers, all with USPs tackling transportation dilemmas in different ways. With this in mind, we look at how four alternative on-demand apps are faring in today’s complex ride-hailing market:
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Hailo, the app that allows people to hail a licensed taxi, recently urged users in London to switch to its new ride-hailing vehicle known as mytaxi – the result of its merger with car company Daimler.
Across Europe, mytaxi has around 100,000 registered drivers, including 17,000 black cabs in London, and is available in more than 50 cities across nine countries. Users in London have until the end of May to switch over to mytaxi, after which Hailo will be switched off.
Following the merger, mytaxi CEO Andrew Pinnington told Bloomberg Technology that he considers the company to be “constructive disruptor” and in what seemed to be a thinly-veiled dig at Uber and other major players, Pinnington added: “Unlike some of the other services, we work with the authorities”.
Karhoo generated negative headlines of its own back in November, when it ceased trading after planning, and seemingly failing, to take on Uber.
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The firm created a stir of controversy after its total amount of funding was brought into question. The company had claimed to have raised $250m but internal documents showed it had only raised about $40m and that it was struggling to generate revenue and attract additional support from investors.
Founded in the UK by Daniel Ishag, Karhoo was then headquartered in New York, and bought out of administration by French car manufacturer Renault.
Currently only available in London, it pools cars from more than 70 providers, giving users access to 10,000 London cabs. The service claims to be up to 65% cheaper than black cabs.
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Previously known as GetTaxi, this Israeli startup differentiates itself with flat-pricing so users know what they’re paying upfront. Gett operates globally and in many major cities all over the UK. It plans to use the $300m that Volkswagen Group invested in May 2016 to aid further expansion.
“In the last five years, we’ve gone from zero to a half a billion-dollar company,” Gett’s UK MD Remo Gerber told Real Business last year.
Despite the continuous stream of controversy it seems that no challenger has come close to knocking Uber off the top spot. Though many consumers in principle may disagree with Uber’s actions, whether they will follow through and deviate from their habits is a different question altogether.