Uber‘s foray into Asia continues after the US-headquartered private car hire firm launched in ‘stealth mode’ in Taipei, Taiwan. The rollout is its second new launch in Asia this week — following its arrival in Seoul, Korea, on Tuesday — and it takes the company to three cities in the region.
Uber, which has raised more than $55 million in funding from investors, typically arrives in new cities with an initial ‘test phase’ soft launch. Based on past launches, we can expect the service to fully launch in Taipei and Seoul in the next four to six weeks.
These two countries are very much the beginning for Uber in Asia. Speaking in February 2012, CEO Travia Kalanick said the company would be in the “obvious” cities across the continent, however it took almost a year before it finally entered Asia with a launch in Singapore in January 2013.
It seems that we can expect the company to land in China — where taxi apps are increasingly coming under state regulation — and New Zealand at some point in the near future, based on job vacancies that Uber is advertising. Spotted earlier this month, they hinted at the launches in Korea and Taiwan before they were announced. In fact, Uber says it is hiring for a General Manager to Taiwan to (literally) drive its business forward.
The first customers to step into Uber’s black sedans on Taiwanese soil were TV stars Ai Li Ke Si and Lisa Wang, but the service is now open to all in the city.
The base fare is NT$126, with a rolling charge of NT$30 per kilometer (when travelling over 18km/h) or NT$16.50 per minute (when travelling below that speed — aka affected by traffic jams). The minimum fare is NT$230 — full Taipei pricing is here.
Taxis are abundant and relatively cheap in Asia’s cities but Uber aims to differentiate itself as a quality, private hire service, rather than a direct taxi replacement. Regular taxis is Taiwan can cost around NT$110, but are aimed at people needing to get from A to B. Uber differentiates itself by offering a ‘premium’ experience for those looking to go beyond the regular experience of a taxi.
Many in Asia have (or aspire to have) chauffeurs, and Uber is tapping into that with a service that. Not to mention that, in Asia at least, Uber also appeals to the desire to gain face and appear affluent to others in society.
The firm is just scratching the surface in Asia, and there are undoubtedly more launches in come. An entry into Tokyo has been long-speculated, it is hiring in China and major cities in Southeast Asia may also be among those that are on the radar for future expansions.
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