Uber Buys Taxi-Software Company Autocab to Fill U.K. Market Gaps
A designated waiting area for Uber Technologies Inc. ride-sharing is seen empty at San Diego International Airport, California, U.S. (Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg)

Uber Buys Taxi-Software Company Autocab to Fill U.K. Market Gaps

Uber Technologies Inc. has agreed to acquire Autocab, a U.K. taxi-software company, in a deal that will allow riders to connect to local drivers in areas where the Silicon Valley giant doesn’t operate.

The deal will ultimately expand Uber’s reach in the U.K. to as many as about 170 locations from 40, and allow the taxi and private car-hire companies that use Autocab’s software to expand and “offer more earnings opportunities to local drivers,” such as deliveries, the companies said in a statement on Thursday.

Customers in markets such as Oxford or Exeter will be able to use their Uber app to get a ride from a local car-hire company, though the integration won’t be rolled out in markets where Uber is already in use, such as London, the companies said. Autocab says it operates in 30 countries, and Uber may eventually expand the program. Uber said it will also help the Manchester, England-based firm expand further.

“Every month thousands of people open the Uber app in places the company doesn’t operate to try to get a trip,” the company said in the statement, though Uber hasn’t announced a new location in the U.K. since 2016.

Uber, which is due to report its financial results later on Thursday, has been struggling with a sharp drop in users this year after the Covid-19 pandemic kept drivers and customers at home. The company said ride hailing was down about 80% in April at the height of the lockdowns.

Autocab supplies taxi booking and dispatch software technology and connects drivers with trips through its iGo marketplace. Autocab will remain largely independent, the companies said in the statement.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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