Uber to Renew Push to Expand in Japan With Taxi Partnerships


Sony's ride-hailing framework will dispatch this spring in organization with taxi organizations Daiwa Motor Transportation, Hinomaru Kotsu, Kokusai Motorcars, Green Cab and Checker Cab Group.

Uber now provides its ride-hailing services to limousines in Tokyo but has started to form an alliance with several taxi companies including Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo Co. headquartered in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture. But its new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, has struck a more conciliatory tone after a string of controversies that emerged under the former CEO, Travis Kalanick.

Ride-hailing firms such as Uber see populous Japan as a potentially lucrative market and are pressing regulators to ease stringent rules governing the taxi industry. So, Uber can no longer offer ride-hailing services like it does in Europe and the United States of America.

SoftBank is heavily present in the taxi market and recently took a 15-per cent stake in Uber. By combining Uber's brand, technology, along with demand from tourists and partnerships with the taxi industry, he said the result would be a "win-win" for Uber and the taxi industry. Khosrowshahi pushed back against that notion in an interview he gave at Davos, saying the company would be "leaning forward" to expand. Uber's Chinese rival Didi Chuxing previous year began partnership talks with taxi operator Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo Co., with the discussions facilitated by Uber shareholder SoftBank Group Corp., a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in October.

The major obstacle is the tough regulation in Japan for companies like Uber.

The six taxi businesses together own 10,000 vehicles, and provide services mainly in the capital of Tokyo.

Uber says it has 300 drivers using its app in the market and "nearly 19,000 regular users".

Asked about SoftBank, which in January became Uber's biggest investor, Khosrowshahi said the Japanese telecoms and investment company is "simply the smartest money in the transportation space". Daiichi Koutsu has already announced plans to team with Didi Chuxing, China's largest ride-hailing company.

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