Dangerous Driving

High Noon at the Taxi Stand

All aboard. But it will cost you. Source: Bloomberg (M)
All aboard. But it will cost you.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    With the mobile app MyTaxi, Daimler wants to claim its piece of the lucrative ride-share pie. But the Mercedes manufacturer faces fierce opposition from its most loyal customer: the taxi industry.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Daimler subsidiary Moovel offered a 50 percent discount on taxi fares booked through its mobile app MyTaxi for two weeks in May.
    • Stuttgart’s taxi dispatch and Germany’s national taxi association are taking Daimler to court, claiming that it constituted “unfair competition.”
    • MyTaxi connects customers with officially licensed cabs as opposed to private drivers.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Taxi companies usually love Daimler, the maker of Mercedes Benz cars. It cars are sturdy, reliable workhorses. Daimler in return has protected its close relationship with Germany’s taxi industry, which has provided the company with a reliable, domestic source of revenue.

But on Monday Daimler and taxi firms face each other in court. Ostensibly, they are arguing about the legality of a taxi booking service run by Daimler subsidiary Moovel. But it is actually more about the clash between the highly regulated taxi market and the forces of the free market. It is about whether digitalization will make the taxi industry, which still operates like a medieval guild, change its ways.

Last month, when a series of train strikes paralyzed much of Germany, Moovel offered customers a 50 percent discount if they booked a ride through its MyTaxi mobile app.

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