Uber is acquiring its largest rival in the UK

Through the acquisition of Autocab, Uber plans to extend its operations in the UK while enabling Autocab to scale its technology platform for cab drivers.

On Wednesday (5 August), ride-hailing business Uber announced its plans to acquire UK-based Autocab.

The Manchester-headquartered business was founded in 1989. TechCrunch suggested that as Uber moves into new markets in the UK, its latest acquisition will save it from dealing with local competition.

Autocab was founded in 1989 to serve taxi drivers cities in the UK outside of London, initially supplying them with radios before eventually building a cloud-based booking platform and a corresponding app to help them pick up more fares.

As described by Engadget, the company built a network called iGo Everywhere, which was a “patchwork rival” to Uber. According to Autocab, iGo is the network of its kind in the UK, with access to 75,000 cars, and operations in the US, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Extending coverage

In a statement, Uber UK said: “Every month thousands of people open the Uber app in places the company doesn’t operate to try get a trip. Through Autocab’s iGo marketplace, Uber will be able to connect these riders with local operators who choose to take their booking.”

Uber said that the move will be beneficial for cab operators, who should be able to expand their operations and offer more earnings opportunities to local drivers.

The company said that it will explore possible additional revenue opportunities for these drivers, such as delivery.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a drop in travel and public transport use, many taxi drivers have diversified their businesses to offer delivery services. In Ireland, Lynk’s 2,000 drivers have turned to grocery delivery to deal with the 50pc slump in business in recent months.

The acquisition

Following Uber’s acquisition of Autocab, the UK firm will remain independent, with its own board focussed exclusively on providing technology to the taxi and private hire industry.

Autocab’s CEO, Safa Alkateb, said his mission has always been to encourage local private hire and taxi operators to transform their businesses and that he believes Uber’s technology can accelerate this ambition.

Alkateb said: “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.

“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.”

Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, added: “Autocab has worked successfully with taxi and private hire operators around the world for more than 30 years and Uber has a lot to learn from their experience. We look forward to working with the Autocab team to help local operators grow and provide drivers with genuine earnings opportunities.”

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

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