This past week I was surprised to see a new twitter account picking up some steam in the twittervers – when I finally looked into who @ChauffeurPrive was, I saw it was, in fact, an Uber competitor – and I mean, an über competitor. Having never tried either one of these services (the metro still works for me), I decided that there was only one way to test these two services: Private Driver Race. So this Saturday, if the prices aren’t too expensive (*cough* journalist discount code *cough*), I’ll be racing from the Eiffel Tower across town to Pere LaChaise. The rules will be simple: two people order two cars at the same time. The startups will be judged on some very standard criteria:
- Quality of “taxi cab chit chat” – since the two are trying to kill the taxi cab services around the world, they need to be able to outperform in taxi-cab chit chat. Tell me a story about an awesome passenger you had, bring up stories from a time before I was born, and always the slight amount of xenophobic racism that makes you laugh but only a little uncomfortably.
- The Need. For Speed – I’m looking for the guy who will cut down the back-alley streets, go the wrong way up a one-way street, and cut-off an old lady pushing a shopping cart filled with orphans just to gain fifteen seconds on the route.
- It’s a Race. A Race to the bottom – I am a man who spend the first 4 months of his time living in Paris jumping turn-styles because he couldn’t afford the metro, so I’m definitely a cheapskate when it comes to transportation prices. On the one hand, I’ll be looking for biggest coupon as well as lowest price after coupon, but I want to see what the ‘normal price’ is.
A bit about the two companies. Because I have to.
So the two companies offer the same service, but approach it in different ways. Uber allows you to hail a car quickly on your phone – once signed up, it’s about two clicks to get a car on its way to where you are. Chauffeur Privé requires you to input your desired destination and pick-up point before calling the taxi. While this may be a bit difficult for the inebriated at the end of an evening, the advantage to Chauffeur Privé is that users can see the price they’ll pay for the ride before they call the car. Both services promise a 5-10 minute wait from time of call to pick-up, and they’re both available on smartphone or android, as well as via internet browser.
Uber is a San Francisco-based startup that has launched in many major American markets, and is beginning to launch in Europe as well, with the lovely Michelle Chimielewski heading up French communications and marketing. Chauffeur Prive, founded by Othmane Bouhal, is going to have a lot of ground to make up, although they’ve certainly let Uber do all the work in getting people to start thinking about using alternative means of transportation.