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.