Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Private hire representatives, the LPHCA, will not cut ties with tech booking firm Autocab following its controversial sale to ride-hailing giants Uber.
Earlier this month 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.
As part of the acquisition Autocab will continue to provide operators with technology to run their business, including booking and dispatch software, and also connect them with trips through their iGo marketplace.
Autocab have come under fire from some sections of the taxi and private hire industries due to the sale. As a result, the Licensed Private Hire Cars Association (LPHCA) sought the views of all its members, asking whether Autocab should remain a key member of the Association.
A spokesperson from LPHCA said via their website: “On 6th August 2020 Uber announced it had entered into an agreement to acquire Autocab and its software. The LPHCA was contacted by members expressing understandable apprehension about this development. Autocab has a commercial relationship, as a Platinum Partner and Exhibitor with the LPHCA and reasonable questions were raised whether this should continue.
“In response, the LPHCA swiftly sought the initial views of all members through an online survey and subsequently attempted to call every member that had not responded. Feedback, based on those responses, does not definitively favour termination at this time.
“Following discussion with our legal advisers, the LPHCA has pro-actively sought to alleviate member concerns and has obtained formal legal assurances from Autocab that it is, and will remain, an independent company. This, it has also been confirmed, will be reflected within all Autocab marketing and promotional material.
“Autocab is fully aware of the LPHCA mandate, and long-standing position, regarding Uber, which remains unchanged from the mandate previously agreed by members that Uber cannot directly or indirectly become LPHCA members.
“The LPHCA would like to offer our sincere thanks to all members who responded and shared views during these difficult times.”
The decision to keep Autocab onboard has however since been publicly challenged by some members of the LPHCA.
Martin Cox, CEO of Chauffeur firm Gerrard Capstar, wrote via social media: “I think this is a terrible decision! I totally respect the right for Autocab to sell their business to whoever they wish, but how on earth can they be part of an organisation who’s nemesis is UBER?
“How can this organisation believe for one minute that Autocab will be totally independent of UBER? If this is the case why on earth has UBER acquired Autocab?
“I truly believe you should reconsider this move as I see a yet another split in the Private Hire Sector at a time when victories are thin on the ground for us all.
“I wish Autocab all the best in the future but I now see them as a fierce competitor as should you.”
Joe Polley, Senior Partner at Parker Car Service, was also disappointed by the decision reached. In a public statement the car firm offered its resignation from the Association based on the decision.
In a two-page letter to Steve Wright MBE, Chairman of LPHCA, Polley wrote: “You as leader of the major private hire trade body in London are effectively lending your support to Uber prior to their upcoming court case to determine their fitness to hold a Transport for London Operators Licence.”