Uber just announced that is has agreed to buy the British taxi-software company, Autocab, in an effort to expand its presence in the UK.
This deal will expand Uber to over 170 regions – it currently only operates in about 40 towns and cities – throughout the UK. Uber has had trouble in the past gaining marketshare in the UK after multiple confrontations with regulators over safety requirements have left them banned in various parts of the country.
Autocab’s marketplace technology will allow Uber to skirt some of these regulations by connecting users with local taxi operators instead of Uber drivers. The Autocab technology, called iGo, was ironically originally developed help taxi operators compete with ride-hailing apps like Uber.
With this new acquisition, customers in markets such as Oxford or Exeter will now be able to use their Uber app to get a ride from a local taxi or car-hire company. However, the iGo integration will not be rolled out in UK markets where Uber already currently operates, such as London.
This deal may be extra beneficial for Uber as they are currently battling regulators in London and are in the process of appealing a ban put in place by the Transport for London. They are currently still allowed to operate in London while the appeal process is ongoing but if they are banned, having the new iGo technology to connect with taxi companies may be extra important for their UK foothold.
At this point, Uber has not disclosed the financial terms of the agreement or whether or not they will need further regulatory approval to operate.