US ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc yesterday said it does not plan to exit the Taiwanese market yet, despite looming fines.
Uber’s comments came as the San Francisco-based company is facing up to NT$25 million (US$775,194) in fines after the legislature passed an amendment to the Highway Act (公路法) earlier this month, significantly increasing fines on illegal taxi service operators by about 166 times.
Uber’s local unit could be forced to shut down after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) signs the amendment into law.
Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times
“The company considers Taiwan an important market,” Uber Taiwan general manager Gu Li-kai (顧立楷) said. “We hope to stay and to grow our business here. We hold a relatively optimistic view about this.”
Gu made the remarks on the sidelines of a news conference for the launch of a campaign in Taipei, “StandByU-Uber stays,” calling on consumers and drivers to support the ride-sharing service.
“We will continue to communicate with government agencies to look for any possibility of relaxing the rules… We hope to reach a consensus with the government as soon as possible,” Gu said.
The campaign is the latest effort by Uber to curry favor with the public as the company’s talks with the government have stalled.
“Uber is concerned about the heavy penalties and about their impact on freelance drivers,” Gu said.
It is unsuitable to apply existing public transportation rules, which have been in place for three or four decades, to regulate the six-year-old car-sharing industry, Gu said.
Uber offers an app-based ride-sharing service, which is very different from companies in the traditional transportation industry, he said.
The company is exploring better solutions in Taiwan and in other countries to adjust outdated rules and to make it possible for the ride-sharing industry, or the whole sharing-economy to develop, he said.
India unveiled a more liberal taxi policy to allow Uber and its Indian rival, Ola, to offer app-based ride-sharing services in the country, Gu said.
The Uber Taiwan app has been downloaded about 1 million times and the firm has recruited about 10,000 drivers since it entered the market in 2013.
Gu said the company is willing to pay e-commerce operator taxes, that mean Google Play, Uber and Apple Store pay 5 percent business tax.
Uber in talks with more than 10 insurers, including Fubon Insurance Co (富邦產險), to offer insurance solutions for its drivers, Gu said.
However, insurers are conservative about collaborating with Uber due to the government’s ambiguous stance over its ride-sharing service, Gu said.
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