Uber has not shied away from legal battles recently, but the startup looks like it’s making a concession in Germany. The ride-sharing company will pay government fees for its drivers in the country to obtain commercial driving licenses, according to a report in German business publication Wirtschafts Woche.
Uber’s German chief, Fabien Nestmann, said that the company will pay the €100 to €200 cost for a license. He added, “We will also pay the €150 to €200 it would cost our partners to have the Chamber of Commerce license them as taxi companies”.
Uber’s drivers must obtain commercial licenses
This news comes just a week after a German court banned the company’s lower-cost Uberpop service in the country. Under German law, Uber’s drivers needed commercial licenses. Uber says that the company will start a new low cost service in Germany this summer, probably called Uber X, that would comply with the commercial license requirements.
Uber has always said its drivers don’t need commercial licenses – the drivers use their own vehicles, unlike drivers in standard Uber (or Uber black), who are professionals connected with taxi firms and approved vehicles. Commercial licenses can be expensive and hard to obtain, and because Uber X drivers don’t work for licensed operators on the side, in areas like Germany they may also be required to register as a private taxi company. This has a lot of complications, such as expensive insurance and complex regulations. That’s the reason that Uber has always maintained it’s a technology company and not a taxi operation.
Previously, Uber has considered governments efforts to enforce commercial licenses as a threat. Earlier this year, Uber and its competitor Lyft opposed a California ruling that mandated commercial plates. The official decision was then reversed. And just a few days ago, Uber’s Paris offices were raided by police, after a ruling that Uberpop was illegal as the drivers don’t hold chauffeur licenses. In Germany, the company says it will appeal the commercial ruling that caused the ban, but for the moment looks like it will have to pay the license fees to keep the service on the roads.
SOURCE: Wirtschafts Woche