Uber Hitting E-Class Taxi Roadblock In Germany

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Uber is having a hard time breaking into the German livery market, and not just for its business model.

According to Bloomberg, Germans prefer their taxis — 60 percent of which consist of Mercedes products, including the E and S classes — over Uber’s Volkswagen Golfs and lower-cost fleet vehicles. The taxis are also younger — average age of 3.5 years — and more luxurious, as well.

Familiarity — or lack thereof — is another factor in grabbing mind share. Berlin-based consultant Boris Knoblich says that while Uber’s lower fares are attractive, he didn’t know “anything about those drivers or the cars they’re driving.” Per Die Zeit, 73 percent of Germans feel the same way, showing no interest in the transportation network company, even if its fares are lower.

Uber’s German boss, Fabian Nestmann, is attempting to change those opinions and to bring the fleet on par with the taxis. Regarding the latter, Uber is considering making direct deals with automakers for newer, higher-quality vehicles. Nestmann also suggested in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung last month that the German government drop mandatory health checks or local geography testing for tax drivers, likely to help his company make further in-roads into the market.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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6 of 29 comments
  • Stuki Stuki on Dec 02, 2014

    Fighting against new E-class Wagons with econoboxes, perhaps the German affiliate should rebrand as Unter?

  • Pinzgauer Pinzgauer on Dec 02, 2014

    From a marketing perspective, perhaps the name Uber simply doesn't resonate with Germans.

  • HerrKaLeun HerrKaLeun on Dec 02, 2014

    Where did you see S Class taxis? This seems like a typo as C and E class are dominant. Actually VW Passat wagons have an increasing taxi share. Taxi fares are regulated by the municipality. So an S-class taxi would be a money loser. Apparently the author has never been in Germany and didn't check facts.

  • OliverTwist OliverTwist on Dec 03, 2014

    krhodes1, Looks like you got one of the private livery and chauffeur service rather than the regular taxicabs... The city government set the fee for travelling between aeroport and various places in Munich. http://www.munich-airport-taxi.com/preise/