'Super' Black Country taxi firm to take on Uber
Two of the Black Country’s biggest taxi firms are set to merge in a bid to take on Uber.
ABC Cars and 24 7 Cars, both of which are based in Wolverhampton, are set to join forces to form a ‘super firm’ consisting of a fleet of 700 cars, the Express & Star has been told.
Bosses say they believe that pooling their resources is the only way to combat the threat of Uber, which has taken a large chunk of the private hire market in parts of the West Midlands and has already seen some smaller operators go out of business.
The plans, which are at an advanced stage, will see a business formed under a new name, along with new headquarters.
If the merger goes ahead it is thought that the new business would be one of the biggest 20 private hire firms in the country.
Neil Caley, boss of Ettingshall Road-based ABC Cars, said he hoped that by joining up with 24 7 Cars they would have the finances to take on Uber.
“As a big American conglomerate, Uber is a threat to local private hire businesses,” he added.
“We believe we can combat Uber or any other competition better together rather than fighting them separately.”
Mr Caley said talks over the merger were already at an advanced stage.
He said the move would involve a ‘total revamp’ of both firms, with new purpose-built offices under consideration. ABC currently has around 300 licensed cars on the road.
Uber, which allows people to use a mobile phone app to book a taxi, launched in Wolverhampton, Dudley and Walsall in 2016.
Its one-year licence to operate in Birmingham expired in March and has been temporarily extended while council bosses seek clarity about its operating model.
The firm’s application to operate in Sandwell was withdrawn in October last year, following a decision by Transport for London (TfL) to refuse the operator a new licence.
TfL determined Uber not to be ‘fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence’ over concerns about how the company reported criminal offences and carried out driver background checks; misuse of software and data breaches.
A judge was yesterday considering whether to give the California-based firm a ‘probationary’ operating licence in the nation’s capital.
Uber has been subject to fierce scrutiny for its treatment of drivers and the safety of passengers in recent months.
In an attempt to pacify regulators, it introduced a 24/7 support helpline and vowed to be more proactive when it comes to reporting serious incidents to police.
It has also announced the launch of a driver feedback programme across the UK, responding to calls for greater rights and protections for workers in the gig economy.