There's no shortage of taxis and minicabs in the capital, with an array of companies competing for passengers, from Uber to Gett to Addison Lee, and of course London’s stalwarts: the black cabs.
So, it may seem rather late in the game for a cab company to try and make inroads in the market, but Mytaxi isn’t exactly a newcomer.
The taxi-hailing app has launched in the capital today, with Hailo becoming Mytaxi, so passengers will be able to hire a licensed black cab with the app as it prepares to give Uber stiff competition.
The rebrand comes after Daimler oversaw a merger of its Mytaxi subsidiary and Hailo in July last year to form Europe’s largest taxi app.
Hailo had been on the capital’s roads from 2011, and chief executive Andrew Pinnington is confident the clout of the German car company will rev up its credentials against Uber and help the firm make strides in the capital’s competitive taxi market.
“Mytaxi might be new to London, but not to Europe where the brand, in half its locations, is the market leader,” he told City A.M.
“Being located across nine European countries and over 50 major cities brings an increased level of recognition and has already started to develop a network effect.”
Tapping Hailo's customers
The app has all the features of Hailo, but has been bolstered by other additions.
This includes giving passengers the option to save their favourite driver to make it more likely they will be allocated them and the chance to share their journey to tell a selected contact where they are and their estimated time of arrival.
As for those on the former app, with “a couple of taps” passengers will be directed via a link from the Hailo app through to their app store to download Mytaxi.
They will be automatically be logged in, so they won’t have to register, sign in or add any details like payment cards.
The majority of Hailo’s 17,000 London cabbies have signed up for Mytaxi, while 700 new drivers have also joined.
Wooing black cab drivers
Mytaxi’s relationship with black cab drivers differentiates it from Uber, which hasn’t received the friendliest welcome to the city from the capital’s cabbies since it arrived in 2012.
Protests have been held over its operation, with critics saying it has circumvented local licensing and safety laws, though that hasn’t proved much of an impediment to Uber’s business.
But at a time when Transport for London (TfL) has been setting out plans to shake up the private hire market and quite possibly Uber’s presence in the capital, it may be a timely opportunity for the rejigged Mytaxi to have a crack at the competitive London market.
A particularly contentious issue has been TfL’s plans to introduce a written English language test for private hire drivers.
Uber lost a legal claim against the transport body, saying the change will lead to “tens of thousands of drivers” losing their livelihoods, though it has said it will appeal the rule.
TfL has said the changes are necessary to boost standards across the industry.
Having noted that “the London e-hail market is one of the biggest and most competitive in the world”, Pinnington thinks capitalising on black cabs’ assets is the way to go, calling them “an inextricable part of the city’s heritage”.
“All of the drivers on the Mytaxi system know the city inside out having spent four years learning the Knowledge and [they] undergo extensive background checks including enhanced criminal records checks and medicals, and we operate within a robust regulatory framework,” he said.
And while the Daimler takeover now means the headquarters are in Hamburg, there’s a Somerset House office for Mytaxi’s operations in the capital.
London – a key growth market
“Although much larger in scale the company has kept the local decision making ensuring that the right balance is found between drivers, customers and local regulators,” Pinnington said.
“Being part of, and understanding the needs of, each city in detail allows us to tailor our product and service so that we can be really effective.”
Pinnington has no plans of taking his foot off the gas when it comes to expansion either.
Mytaxi now spans nine countries and next on the agenda is Greece, after the recent acquisition of Taxibeat.