US-based ride-hailing company Uber Technologies announced that it will return to the local market tomorrow, with a new business model focused on cooperating with vehicle rental companies.
Uber on Monday sent invitations to media outlets for a news conference tomorrow at which it is to announce its return, saying that the move was at the urging of its supporters in Taiwan.
It is also to reveal details of its business model and a new Uber application, the company said, although it said that it would no longer work with individual drivers, but rather with the car rental industry.
At the same time, Uber said it would provide services in remote townships and villages and pledged not to break any laws after restarting operations.
Uber suspended services in Taiwan on Feb. 10 due to the staggering amount of fines it and its drivers had accrued for violations of transportation service regulations.
The firm was deemed to be illegally operating transportation services, because it was registered as a provider of information services.
Uber refused to comply with government demands to register as a transportation business, saying that it was not a taxi service.
As of late December last year, Uber had accumulated fines of NT$68.45 million (US$2.23 million at the current exchange rate) for 481 violations, while its drivers had been fined a combined NT$20.83 million.
The maximum fine for the operation of illegal passenger transportation services on Jan. 6 was increased to NT$25 million, and Uber was found guilty of an additional 48 violations, resulting in an estimated NT$1.1 billion in fines.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications said the ride-hailing service will remain on the right side of the law as long as it sticks to cooperating with car rental companies.
However, the ministry said that Uber still has NT$800 million in unpaid fines.
The Directorate-General of Highways said Uber must comply with the regulations if it reopens, and vowed to pursue payment of the unpaid fines through administrative means.
The agency said it told Uber last month that because it is registered in Taiwan as an information provider, it can only offer “technology services” if it wants to operate legally.
If Uber plans to work with rental companies, it has to post the names of the companies and drivers it works with and the fees it will charge on its app, the agency said.
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