Uber announced today via their blog that they will launch on February 5th UberPop, an urban ridesharing service that will undercut UberX prices by nearly 50%. The offer, which will allow individuals to register their car on Uber and transport other individuals, comes just days after the 15-Minute law was confirmed by the French Government, forcing UberX & Uber drivers (licenses professionals) to wait 15 minutes before picking up passengers. This offer will circumvent the law and leverage Uber’s existing network in Paris.
In its home city of San Francisco, Uber has been met with heavy competition by services like Lyft, whose pink mustached cars have become synonymous with urban ridesharing. Here in Paris, however, while some services have begun to launch, there is no player in France with a better network of supply & demand in urban rides than Uber.
Many, including myself, expected Blablacar, which recently launched in Russia & Ukraine as its 10th country, to launch an urban offer; however, the company has no visible plans to launch a short-distance offer, and has carved out a 5 Million+ user market of long-distance ride-sharing.
It’s no surprise, then, that Uber would choose Paris as a test market to launch UberPop. Today, Paris is one of Uber’s largest markets outside the United States, alongside London, and the company launched in 45 new cities in 2013 alone. In addition, with recent legislation cracking down on UberX, Uber Berline, and UberVan, Uber is opening itself up to the last remaining uncontrolled market – P2P – in a market where Airbnb is also dominating.
Uber has seen phenomenal growth in Paris, largely due to the launch of UberX last July – one can only imagine that UberPop will solidify their dominant position in France, making competing with Uber even more difficult. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but this is exactly what I predicted last month.