London black taxi app FREE NOW merges with minicab app Kapten in bid to become the market number one

FREE NOW, a leading London black-cab app has today announced that it will merge with its sister company Kapten, London’s number two ride-hailing app.

The merger will make both services available through a single app, and they say it has been undertaken with the aim to provide drivers with more passengers, deliver greater consumer convenience, and to develop a fleet of sufficient size to rival the competition as the number one market player.  

London’s FREE NOW app will have the largest electric fleet in Europe, and will ensure passengers are able to order both iconic black cabs and private hire vehicles (PHVs) at the touch of a button.

By bringing the two businesses together, FREE NOW say they now have the scale and passenger base to become the number one market player with access to over 35,000 drivers using the app in London alone. The merger will also ensure black cabs are available to a wider user base across the capital.

FREE NOW and Kapten are both part of the BMW and Daimler mobility joint venture that was announced in early 2019. FREE NOW (formerly mytaxi) is seen as one of the UK’s number one black cab apps and has been active since 2011. FREE NOW’s sister company Kapten, which launched in the capital in May 2019 is regarded as Uber’s closest competition in the capital. The announcement comes as the company plans to get London moving post lockdown.

Research commissioned by FREE NOW and conducted by Censuswide found that Londoners increasingly wanted access to multiple transport options in any given location. 80% of passengers surveyed in January suggested that they would prefer it if there was one app that managed all transport booking needs such as public transport, bike sharing, and multiple taxi and private hire options.

Marc Berg, CEO of the FREE NOW Group, said: “We are officially announcing the merger of our brands and technology at a very difficult time across Europe. The looming crisis undermines our business model, making it even more important for us to take this logical next step towards building sustainable and profitable growth in the coming years. 

“The ride-hailing market is becoming more and more mature, meaning we are on an accelerated path to profitability. Beyond already planned strategic initiatives and a general industry trend, the challenges posed by COVID-19 will urge players in the on-demand-mobility sector to focus on driving the businesses towards profitability more than ever.

“Once lockdowns are lifted, there will be a new normal in the way people move around cities - we want to set the foundation now, so that our unique offering will give more flexibility and choice to passengers as well as more business for drivers.” 

Mariusz Zabrocki led the launch of Kapten in London and quickly grew it to be the main challenger to Uber in the city.

Mariusz, who will take over as General Manager of FREE NOW UK, leading the joint business said: “In the last few months we have seen the way we travel, shop, work and interact with each other change beyond recognition. We have also seen how the industry has come together to help in the crisis, from iconic black cabs getting vital NHS staff to hospitals, to Kapten cars delivering essential supplies to the vulnerable, communities have joined together to work alongside each other and help out where it really matters.

“Before the COVID-19 outbreak, London was a very competitive ride-hailing market and we are confident it will be again. However, passenger demand and the way we travel will change dramatically as a result of the virus; whether it's the daily commute, working from home more often or socialising in different ways, our aim is to offer flexibility and the best possible service to passengers when the lockdown is lifted.

“We are confident that when London opens up again, we will be able to play our part in getting the capital back on its feet while also driving more demand to both black cab and private hire vehicle drivers.”

Image credit: FREE NOW

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