Finally, Uber is making it to Berlin. Uber’s Germany chief Christian Freese told newspaper Welt am Sonntag the ride-sharing company will launch Uber X service in Berlin in June, according to Reuters. After failed attempts with Uber X and Uber Black, and with UberPool a nonstarter in the country, Uber has now found an appropriate source for cars and has been signing up professional licensed drivers for Uber X.
Germany pushed back against Uber’s use of unlicensed drivers last year, insisting that Uber only use licensed transport drivers. German transport regulations make UberPool a no-go from the start, but Uber X and Uber Black services can run if Uber can find enough properly certified drivers. Now the company has Uber X service in Munich. While Uber did start in a few other German cities, including Hamburg and Frankfort, only Munich still has Uber. But Berlin is next.
When the German authorities laid down the law last year with Uber, they specified huge fines, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, should the company transgress applicable regulations. Wisely, Uber did not push things as they’ve tried to in some other cities and countries.
The good news of Uber’s upcoming entry into Berlin comes on the heels of recent legal setbacks in the U.S. in Texas and California. Today Uber and ride-sharing competitor Lyft both stopped service in Austin, Texas, after losing a Saturday vote to overturn a law that required the ride-sharing companies to run fingerprint background checks on drivers. In California last week, a federal judge refused to completely dismiss Uber’s responsibility in two cases of violent crimes against riders by on-duty Uber drivers.
With autonomous vehicles coming soon and Uber’s stated plan to institute driverless car service when German laws change to allow such service in its cities, Uber may find itself confronting even greater opportunities. Uber’s reported order of 100,000 plus S class Mercedes Benz sedans testifies to the firm’s optimism. And any country that has a signature company holding a multi-billion dollar order is likely to feel some pressure to accommodate.