Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.
Uber is powering on with its plan to expand across Asia after the private car hire service announced it has launched in Seoul, Korea, taking it to two markets in the region — and three across the wider Asia Pacific region.
The launch is initially in a testing phase — aka the ‘secret’ launch which is standard for all Uber expansions — and we can probably expect a full rollout within a month, going on past experience.
Uber first launched in Asia when it landed in Singapore in January, having already touched down in Australia in late 2012. We already know that the US firm is planning a wider expansion after job vacancies for positions in Taiwan, China, Korea and New Zealand surfaced online earlier this month.
The first person to take a ride in Uber Seoul was football star Koo Ja Cheol, who scored the goal that secured his country’s team a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics. Uber says Cheol was so impressed he spent the day travelling across Seoul in his Uber car — that’s a promising start and his presence may give the service an additional cool factor.
Regular folks can enjoy the service for 1,700 Won per km (when travelling over 18km/h) or 700 Won per minute (when under that speed). The base fare is 6,000 Won and minimal cost for a journey is 12,000 Won — full pricing for Uber in Korea can be found here.
Plans for Asia have always been public. Speaking back in February 2012, Uber CEO Kalanick said that Asia was a focus for the company. Though he anticipated that the firm would enter the continent last year — a rollout in Tokyo scheduled for December is still to happen.
Kalanick said that the company would focus on the “obvious” cities across the continent. Though he declined to give specifics, Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong are thought to be among the places that the company will enter in the coming months.
An Uber spokesperson declined to comment on plans for Asia when asked by TNW.
As is customary, Uber Seoul has a Twitter account which fans of the service can follow for updates: @Uber_Seo.
Headline image via Shutterstock
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