Uber Launches In Helsinki With Zero Cars While Taxify Takes Them

    Note: Updated with quote from Uber

    With Taxify launching in Oulu two weeks ago, and in Helsinki yesterday, the taxi battles are starting to heat up in Helsinki. Timed with Slush, Uber surprised Finland by announcing they will be launching in Helsinki this morning but riders beware – Uber seems to have no cars are on the road. According to Taxify CEO Markus Villig, they may have had their taxi supply drop out underneath them overnight.

    The Estonian Taxify team gathered up around the Slush exits on the first day of the event and were aggressively giving out flyers with around 160 cars on the road with the app. By the morning, over 300 rides were done using the app, which was when we first heard about the Uber announcement, that can be found on their blog.

    “The only [taxi] company willing to cooperate with [Uber] saw we were doing so well, and this morning decided to work with us instead of them,” says Villig plainly. Uber has had a difficult relationship with its drivers in some cities, who have protested Uber’s reduction of some fares, its tipping policy, and driver safety.

    Taxify and Uber look at the market differently. While Uber connects individual drivers to riders and occasionally works with taxi supply, Taxify is closer to a software service for taxi companies that provides them with an app and call center tools. The company’s approach has allowed them to grow despite Europe’s strong taxi regulations. This past August Taxify counted 50,000 monthly rides from the app and 70,000 through their call center software.

    The company first launched in Tallinn where they’ve seen the market level off, but new cities are growing 100% month over month.

    Comparing Uber to Taxify in Helsinki, Villig commented that “regulation seems to be their biggest show stopper. Them coming to new markets is a great booster to us.” In essence, Taxify has no legal problems, as their app essentially works on top of the existing infrastructure and simply facilities easier ordering process.

    With no cars on the road, will Helsinki be the first city Uber needs to pull out of?

    Editor’s note: We have reached out for comment from Uber and will update the article as more information becomes available.

    Update 11:30 Nov 20.

    Uber has gotten back to us with this comment:

    When we launch a new city, demand always vastly outstrips supply. The number of drivers we cooperate with now will increase over the coming days and we welcome competition on that front.

    Top Image Courtesy of Shutterstock // Taxi

    Greg Anderson also contributed to this article