By on December 2, 2014

Mercedes-Benz_E_200_NGT_taxi_best_award_May2011

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.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

29 Comments on “Uber Hitting E-Class Taxi Roadblock In Germany...”


  • avatar
    insalted42

    “Familiarity — or lack thereof — is another factor in grabbing mind share.”

    I’ve been living in Germany now for a little less than 2 years (I’m American), and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the uniquely German mindset it’s that they tend to be VERY careful and suspicious of EVERYTHING disruptive and anti-status quo. Although the stupidity fest that was “anti-gluten movement” never caught on here, just about every other über-paranoid fear of change has. Most of my german friends still keep tape over the webcam of their macs to prevent the NSA from watching them while they browse facebook. So this statement doesn’t surprise me at all.

    ALthough the German taxi drivers will probably be less than thrilled with Uber, I think Germans in general MAY come around but it’s going to take a LONG TIME for the general populace to start to accepting some new fangled american technology over the highly established (and unionized) Taxi industry. And no amount of new Mercedes in Uber’s fleets is going to speed up the process.

    • 0 avatar
      This Is Dawg

      Interesting points, thanks!

      The tape-over-the-camera thing makes me want to convince as many Germans as I can that sleeping near an electric fan is deadly. (Though obviously there’s a slightly more solid basis for camera paranoia.)

  • avatar
    Beemernator

    A brown diesel wagon! Sadly, not available in manual.

    • 0 avatar
      7402

      The E-Class wagon is available with a manual transmission in many markets. You can get the E 200 CDI, E 220 CDI, E 250 CDI, and E200 (gas) with the 6-speed manual. Those are all four cylinder engines, if you want 6 or 8 cylinders you have to go with the 7G Tronic Plus transmission or the AMG speedshift version for the E63 AMG.

      • 0 avatar
        insalted42

        I never really understood why Mercedes doesn’t offer a diesel engine choice in the E-class wagon in the States. Yes, I understand that diesels don’t sell well in the US (and that that’s an understatement), but how many E-class wagons is Mercedes even moving AT ALL per year there? 100-200 maybe?

        If they could win over just 2 buyers who would’ve otherwise bought something like a Cayenne Diesel, then that’s a 1-2% sales year-over-year sales increase for the E wagon which is statistically significant for a car that sells so little.

        (I understand that logic is flawed on a lot of levels…I’m just philosophizing)

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Certification for the diesel option in another bodystyle would cost seven figures, so amortizing it over two sales wouldn’t be likely. It would be cheaper to buy all(both?) the perspective customers diesels from VWs expensive brands.

      • 0 avatar
        Beemernator

        My bad.

        That said, a four cylinder E-class is hardly the stuff that internet memes are made of – even with a manual box.

        I can only wonder how slow the E200 is. With modern technology it is probably not that bad, but the badge brings back memories. It will take a lot to make me forget the slowness of a four-on-the-floor manual W123 200 my mom had back in the eighties.

        • 0 avatar
          OliverTwist

          The German Mercedes-Benz website quoted 10.7 seconds to 100km/h for E 200 CDI and 8.5 seconds for E 200. Not really that slow like the W114/5 200D from the 1970s…

          I have driven a 2012 SLK 250 CDI (yes, a diesel SLK) with same motor as E 200 CDI tuned for higher horsepower and torque. A very spirited bugger!

      • 0 avatar
        OliverTwist

        For 2015, you can get 9G-Tronic, a new nine-speed automatic gearbox, with 2,1-litre diesel four-cylinder motor in E 220 CDI and 3-litre diesel V6 motors in E 300 CDI and E 350 CDI in Germany.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Oh dear, vision test time. It’s pale yellow. Subaru had a Legacy Spec-B wagon in that color in Gran Turismo 1 or 2. I think it was called Cashmere Yellow.

      • 0 avatar
        insalted42

        That’s the official “Taxi-color” in Germany. Every official taxi is this color, and it always reminds me of devilled eggs…

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Look at this!

          http://s49.photobucket.com/user/superchargeruk/media/Subaru%20Legacy/BriSkodaTrackday15-9-07684Medium.jpg.html

          That is LEGIT. That’s what I was doing on Playstation, in my mind.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Is that actually true of all of Germany? When I was in Munich 3 years ago, only some of the taxis were that color. The new S-class that I took from the airport to BMW Welt was dark red. Maybe 1/2 the taxis in the queue were that flesh color, but the rest were various dour dark German car colors. And every one of them was a German car.

          That 20 minute taxi ride cost about $130 at the then-current exchange rate too.

          • 0 avatar
            OliverTwist

            What you rode was the private livery or chauffeur service provided by Sixt Limousine Service, Blacklane Fahrservice, airlines such as Emirates and Lufthansa for its first class passengers, and such.

            Much like the Lincoln Town Car with stretched rear doors in New York City.

  • avatar
    PriusV16

    insalted42 is right about that German mindset of caution and skepticism about anything new and disruptive, but there’s usually a reason for that aversion against abrupt change.

    In the case of Uber, I’d definitely ask myself why I should accept a taxi service with inferior vehicles, and one that is also lobbying for the abolishment of crucial aptitude checks for the drivers.

    Or to put it a bit more boldly, who wants to be driven around by a guy who doesn’t know his way around the landscape and has an infectious disease…..? >:-}

    • 0 avatar
      insalted42

      I’m not entirely sure if that’s a crack at immigrant drivers or the recent scandals surrounding some Uber drivers, but it definitely made me laugh…

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I think it is an accurate description of why the US market is such a soft target for Uber, although he left off the part about the drivers also being smelly, rude, and talking on the phone animatedly in farsi while taking you on a circuitous route you’ve never used in your own neighborhood. And the music they play…having uncomfortable flashbacks as I type this.

      • 0 avatar
        PriusV16

        No shot at immigrant drivers intended…. most of the taxi drivers in Germany are immigants, too. But the vast majority of them is polite, not smelly, play ordinary pop music radio stations on the radio and don’t take me to the North Pole and back when I just want them to get me to a destination that’s merely 10 miles away. :-)

  • avatar
    Nessuno

    we’ll thats just that for Uber, by itself its not realistically a superior service. Uber counts on exploiting inferiorities of local markets in order to carve out their slice of pie. However when the industry won’t come down to them Uber is demonstrating an inability to move up to it. Which is something I wish more people would contemplate.

    In NA specifically, its not that Uber is a superior service, its that the taxi market is that terrible…

    • 0 avatar
      Rod Panhard

      Correct! Taxi service in the U.S. is inconsistent in everything except for poor quality and high prices.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        That is not universal. Much as I HATE NYC, and I do, the taxi service there is mostly really, really good. With the exception of if you need to get to an airport around shift change time. Nobody is perfect.

        Uber is a god-send in San Francisco though. The regular taxis are nearly worthless. DC is even worse.

    • 0 avatar
      steevkay

      Agreed, the prices alone make it worthwhile in Ottawa, where taxi fares are quite high and public transit is less-than-ideal.

      I find it difficult to believe Uber will achieve any level of success in Germany; when I was there, all the cabs I took were recent-model E-classes (I didn’t get any S-class taxis, unfortunately). Also, if the public transit in Munich is representative of major German cities, I would rarely use taxis since the Munich subway trains were on time, clean, and easy to use (although I don’t think I’ve encountered a public transit system that I find genuinely difficult to use).

      • 0 avatar
        OliverTwist

        Yeah, I absolutely agree. The public transportation system here in Munich is legendary. I can hardly imagine myself driving in Munich when the network is so extensive and runs on time (most of time).

        I lived in San Francisco, Denver, and Dallas before moving back to Germany so I know what it’s like there with taxi and public transportation service. I even warned my German friends to avoid certain bus routes in San Francisco such as 30-Stockton and 45-Union/Stockton through Chinatown and 38-Geary to Richmond District if they want to keep their sanity…

  • avatar
    stuki

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

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

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

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      At the Munich airport, pretty much all the taxis in the taxi queue were S-class, E-class VW Phaeton, Audi A6 and A8s when I was there in 2011. I ended up with an S-class. Brand-new, small diesel. Driven very smoothly and VERY rapidly on the way into the city by a cabbie who spoke near perfect English.

      The rate was VERY expensive, IMHO. ~$130 for a similar trip to LaGuardia to lower Manhattan, which would run $30 or so with light traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      OliverTwist

      HerrKaLeun,

      Come to Munich, and you will see several Mercedes-Benz S-Class taxicabs. That also includes Porsche Cayenne, BMW 7-Series, Audi A-Series, Volkswagen Phaeton, Jaguar XJ. I took photos of Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Porsche Cayenne taxicabs as the proof for my sceptical American friends. Unfortunately, TTAC does not allow me to insert the photos in the comment forum.

      http://i203.photobucket.com/albums/aa54/cawimmer430d/SPOTTED8932/15MercedesS-ClassTaxi.jpg

      http://bobtheplainguy.blogspot.de/2010/08/taxis-in-munchen.html

      Porsche Panamerica taxicabs are often used in Stuttgart.

      http://www.autoblog.com/2010/04/22/video-porsche-panamera-gets-the-taxi-treatment/

      I have ridden in a Mercedes-Benz S350 CDI (Model V221) from the Munich central train station to my home a year ago. Oh, the rate is the same as other taxicabs: €18 each way.

  • avatar
    OliverTwist

    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/

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • el scotto: @ SCE to AUX Sir, you are exactly right. Most vehicles are manufactured with 100’s if not...
  • el scotto: Just nasty, like something unidentifiable and sticking to the bottom of your shoe. Badge-engineered with...
  • ToolGuy: Static shock? Problem solved: https://neptunic.com/products/ sharksuits
  • Corey Lewis: Jaguar is bad about that. They’ll tell you it’s a Performance S with 310 horsepower, but not...
  • zerofoo: “and the lack of bullet trains and other public transportation alternatives is causing our freeways to...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber