| HAMBURG/FRANKFURT, July 23
HAMBURG/FRANKFURT, July 23 Hamburg has told
Uber, a U.S. car service whose smartphone app summons rides at
the touch of a button, to stop operating in the German city,
adding to resistance the company has faced globally from local
regulators and taxi drivers.
San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc, valued at $18.2
billion in a fundraising last month just four years since its
2010 launch, has touched a raw nerve by threatening to open up a
traditionally tightly controlled and licensed market.
Uber customers order and pay for a taxi with its application
on their smartphones. Instead of having taxis prowl city streets
looking for customers, Uber allows smartphone users to summon a
nearby car to pick them up.
Hamburg's transport office sent Uber an injunction on July
21 saying its drivers needed special licenses to transport
passengers, a spokeswoman for the office told Reuters on
Wednesday, confirming a report published by German monthly
The magazine had said drivers who continued to offer their
services via the platform could face fines of 1,000 euros
Uber said its Uber Pop service was not a commercial ride
service, rather a platform connecting private car owners with
people seeking a ride.
"Drivers riding on Uber Pop are driving their own car,"
Regional General Manager Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty told Reuters.
"The whole platform is about allowing those people to drive
around a few hours a week to share the cost of owning a car."
Uber said the Hamburg authorities' decision was not final,
definitive or binding and it would continue to offer its
services in Germany's second-biggest city while appealing.
Uber has faced resistance in cities around the world. In
Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., Uber and similar
companies have faced lawsuits from taxi companies hoping to keep
out the competition.
In Europe, taxi drivers protesting against Uber last month
created traffic chaos in cities including London and Paris,
while South Korea's capital Seoul came out this week saying it
wanted to ban the app.
Uber, backed by investors including Goldman Sachs and
Google, rebuts the criticism and argues it complies
with local regulations.
($1 = 0.7428 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Sarah McBride in San Francisco;
Editing by David Holmes)