Rise hailing taxi firm Uber is to acquire UK based rival Autocab, in a move that will greatly expand the availability of its taxis in British towns and cities.

Uber in its announcement did not disclose the amount it will pay, but did state that Autocab will remain independent with its own board focussed exclusively on providing technology to the taxi and private hire industry around the world.

In June Uber expanded its flat-rate feature, already available in some European cities, to the US to help riders carry out essential trips during pandemic.

Autocab deal

Autocab essentially operates a ride-booking cloud-based app called iGo, which is used by independent minicab companies throughout the UK.

The iGo app allows private hire and taxi firms to offer online bookings and organise dispaches, and it is reportedly used by half of the private hire and taxi market in the UK.

At the moment, Uber is only available in 40 towns and cities in the UK, but this deal will give Uber customers access to an additional 75,000 vehicles in areas where Uber does not currently operate.

This means that when the deal is complete, the Uber ride hailing app should be available in approximately 170 towns and cities in the UK.

And when there is no Uber car in the area, customers can seamlessly book a private hire car instead.

“Autocab has worked successfully with taxi and private hire operators around the world for more than thirty years and Uber has a lot to learn from their experience,” explained Jamie Heywood, regional general manager at Uber.

“We look forward to working with the Autocab team to help local operators grow and provide drivers with genuine earnings opportunities,” he added.

“Autocab has been working with local operators across the world to provide the technology to make them more efficient and open up a marketplace to provide more trips,” added Safa Alkateb, CEO of Autocab.

“Working with Uber we can scale up our ambitions, providing hundreds of thousands of additional trips for our customers, and help cement the place of licenced operators in their local community,” Alkateb concluded.

Tough times

There is little doubt the Coronavirus pandemic has hit the taxi industry hard.

In April for example Uber revealed that journeys booked through its app had fallen 80 percent, which it blamed on the Covid-19 pandemic

Uber also announced it would axe more than a third of its workforce (6,700 jobs), but that didn’t include drivers as they are considered ‘independent contractors.’

But in May Uber said that said demand was slowly recovering.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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