An alliance of 17 taxi groups is gearing up for a head-on battle against ride-hailing firm Uber with a forthcoming app that it claims can match the popular Uber app, and do more besides. “Whatever Uber can do, we do it better. Whatever Uber cannot do, we can,” declared Hung Wing-tat, chairman of the Hong Kong Taxi Council, an organisation comprising taxi owners, drivers and other stakeholders, which promotes service and development of the taxi industry.
He announced on Wednesday that the council would launch the app, called eTaxi, in the coming months, with plans to ultimately include all the city’s 40,000 taxi drivers in the service. Hung said the council was still inviting drivers to join the platform, which would be officially launched on the market when a sufficient number of cabbies are gathered.
“This app is jointly financed and developed by the 17 taxi groups and we are seeking more funding support from other stakeholders,” he said, adding that so far about 1,000 drivers had signed up for the platform. “The new app can surpass Uber. It has everything Uber offers, such as all the different means of electronic payment. But it also has functions you won’t find on the Uber app, such as the voice order function and support from taxi call centres,” Hung said.
The move came a day after Edward Lau, owner of Tin Shing Motors, backed out at the last minute from his plan to team up with Uber to launch a taxi service called Uber Flash. Tin Shing has a fleet of 20 taxis. The deal would have allowed users to order taxis through Uber’s mobile app.
Sources told the Post that Lau was forced to scrap the much-anticipated partnership after threats to his family and the possibility of a boycott by insurance companies. Despite the setback, Uber went ahead with the launch of Uber Flash, with an undisclosed number of individual taxis. However, Hung called on taxi drivers and operators to refrain from partnering with Uber, saying he suspected that Uber Flash was still illegal.
- Alliance of Hong Kong taxi operators preparing to go head to head with Uber.