Updated: Aug 9, 2020
This week Uber sent shockwaves through the UK taxi and private hire industries after announcing they had entered into an agreement to buy the popular technology company Autocab.
Since then Autocab have been furiously responding to comments made by its customers and members of the trade trying to detail the positives of the deal.
As part of the acquisition Autocab will continue to provide private hire and taxi operators with technology to run their business, including booking and dispatch software, and also connect them with trips through their iGo marketplace.
Through Autocab’s iGo marketplace, Uber will now hope to connect customers in places the company doesn’t operate, giving local operators the choice to take their booking. In turn, Uber hopes that operators could be able to expand their operations and offer more earnings opportunities to local drivers. Uber will also explore providing drivers with additional revenue opportunities related to its platform for other services, such as delivery.
As the news broke on Thursday, Steve Garelick, a prominent private hire driver representative and GMB Union Regional Organiser, said: “With Autocab being taken over by Uber will that be the beginning of the end for many independent operators who use the software. This will obviously have an effect on Dual License and others as Uber obtain valuable market data.”
Autocab have since rebuffed the idea that Uber will own the market data. Responding on social media, the tech booking firm said: “No access to your analytics account, no access to when and where your work comes from. Your data belongs to you.”
The UK firm also responded to claims that Autocab had sold out on the industry and its customers.
Steven Harrison wrote on Autocab’s Facebook post: “It would be nice to hear the truth, the money was too good we’ve sold you out.”
Autocab responded saying:
“The money was good, the opportunity to help cement the place of our customers and the long-term health of the private hire industry was great!"
The firm added: “Think about it, really think about it, Uber are offering firms the opportunity to do some of their app, delivery and corporate work through iGo, if they want it.
“The alternative would be not to work with the industry and instead simply launch in city after city and keep recruiting drivers from private hire firms. Think about it from a driver's perspective now - do I go and work for Uber to only receive Uber work and pay 25% commission on every trip, or, do I stick with my private hire firm and receive their work, some additional Uber work and just pay £100 per week rent?”
Since first losing their London operator's licence in 2017, Uber’s ride-hailing expansion around the rest of the UK has ceased. Instead the firm has since invested heavily in its food delivery service UberEats.
In 2018 Uber won back their licence in the capital, but have since lost its operator's licence again in 2019. The minicab firm will challenge the decision via an appeal in court starting in September.