Uber competitor Chauffeur Prive launches in France. One Solution – Private Driver Race.

European StartUp Scene

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

10 Responses

  1. Uber Paris

    Hi Liam, very interesting…
    To answer your three points: – Chit-chat : Uber drivers are professional drivers. If you start up a conversation with them, they’re friendly, but most remain quite discreet during your trip as some riders like to check email, make phone calls, or listen to music while they ride. We’re aiming AWAY from taxi-cab chit-chat.
    – Speed : If one of our drivers ever “cut off an old lady pushing a shopping cart filled with orphans” we would terminate our contract with him immediately. And he would probably be fined by the police, which would slow you down more than waiting for a stop light. – Discounts : We love partnering with events and making sure that attendees get the VIP experience they deserve – which often includes super discounts for everyone going. Every day, though, you can invite friends via the app or on your Uber dashboard. If they sign up with your link, they’ll get 10€ or 10$ based on where they are in the world, and you will too once they take their first ride.Just for info, we’ll be launching soon in London, as well, and are hiring. https://www.uber.com/jobs We launched in Paris in December and are now in 10 cities, and will be launching in 2 more American, 1 Canadian, and another European city within the next month.
    Thanks, Liam

  2. ChauffeurPrive

    Hi Liam,
    Interesting initiative. Original, that’s for sure 🙂
    Regarding your 3 points:
    1/Chit-Chat
    Our drivers are trained to adapt to the client’s mood and feel. They will remain quiet and discreet until you ignite the conversation 🙂
    2/Speed
    Likewise, they are all licensed professionals, and we take legal considerations extremely seriously. That being said, they will adapt to your driving preferences within the boundaries of the law ^^
    3/Discounts
    As much as we’d love to offer everyone large discounts, we’re a bootstrapped startup, ploughing every cent we have in car/driver quality and overall distinctive user experience. Plus, we are also going out of our way to offer that service at an accessible price (e.g., launching for example with Paris/CDG at 85€, or, Bagatelle-Longchamp/Paris 8th for 20€ flat)
    Regarding your comparison of the two startups (*ahem* services?), although you make some interesting comments, allow me to highlight a few additional key differences:
    1/Flat price at time of order – as you pointed out
    2/Competitive pricing  Paris/CDG=85€ , Paris/ORLY=65€ 
    3/Choice of car: you can specify the number of passengers to request a minivan (Mercedes Viano) or a sedan (Mercedes C, E or S, Citroen C6, etc.)
    4/You will be charged in euros (no additonal bank fees)
    5/Additional cool services in the car: smart phone chargers (some cars even have iPads), and a majority of our cars have “jack” cables, so you can plug in your smart phone and play your favorite tunes all the way (we’re working on some more cool stuff 🙂
    6/Easily identifiable drivers/cars: Our drivers all rock a slick red tie, as well as have a visible sign on the front passenger sun protector (“pare-soleil”). We’ve been working closely with our drivers, hand in hand in the past few months, maybe that’s why they’re all smiling on the profile pics 🙂
    Cheers Liam!
    Yan

    • Daniele Beccari

      I like the flat pricing idea, but Paris/CDG=85€ competitive?With the current monopolistic Paris taxi system I’m in the 45-65 range (from Republique, home pick-up included).
      If any revolution has to happen here, it should be anything but more expensive…

    • Uber Paris

      Hey Daniele, I hear you on the price difference. To be totally transparent, Uber actually decided on airport fares by taking a look at limousine prices, which are the same (awesome) drivers that are our partners. The fares typically range from 120€ to 240€, so we headed towards the lower end to hopefully satisfy our price conscious riders. 
      We understand that not everybody is going to take an Uber to the airport, but we hope you’ll try us out in the city.

  3. Eileen Bastianelli

    funny the Chauffeur Prive comment mirrors Uber’s comment – just like they are trying to do with the service…

  4. ChauffeurPrive

    please, “allow me to highlight a few additional key differences” …
    🙂

  5. Paulin Dementhon

    what I don’t understand is why there’s no low cost initiative like those yet (or maybe there are ?). I don’t really care about having a nice car and a nice driver, I’d better pay less for a simple A to B transportation. Just like taxis in NYC or HK for instance. Those services are more expensive than Paris taxis which are already quite expensive compared to other cities

    • Liam Boogar

      Well I talked with a few people who work in the field this past week, and, from what I understand, it’s just not profitable to do so without a taxi license. That is to say, it is impossible for Uber, or any other private chauffeur service, to make a profit by charging the same prices as taxis while paying their drivers either as salaried individuals or on commission based on trips.
      Taxi drivers don’t make THAT much money, so I don’t private drivers are going to want to work for those rates. If it were that simple, I think someone would be doing it.

    • Uber Paris

      Hey Paulin, Sorry about not seeing your reply sooner, but I definitely hear you. Uber is all about making transportation easier and awesome, and Liam is absolutely right in that there isn’t very much wiggle room between Uber prices and taxi prices, but there are definitely solutions in the market – or at least in Paris – that are aiming to do exactly what you’re talking about. You should check out Buzzcar and Autolib – car sharing services that are different but fill a different need. 

  6. Chauffeurs Dublin

    I agree Paris is a quite expensive city for a taxi but it comes with the economy I have friends who are taxi drivers and they do not make much money. Insurance is a big factor!

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