Surekha Ragavan
Sep 3, 2019

Local ride-hailing services in Taiwan blow Uber out of the water

Uber PR’s crisis in Taiwan has led to the swift rise of local taxi services.

Local taxi companies are thriving in Taiwan
Local taxi companies are thriving in Taiwan

TAIWAN'S TOP LOCAL BRANDS

In this year’s country list of top 100 brands by Campaign Asia-Pacific and Nielsen, 10 local brands featured in the top 50, with Uni-President taking the lead. The local brand that improved the most this year is Viva, a nut and snack supplier that climbed a whopping 747 spots to 54. Other local entries that showed improvements this year are CTBC Bank, Eva Air, and green tea brand Chai Li Won.

But the perhaps the most noteworthy jump comes from 55688 Taiwan Taxi, which surpassed Chunghwa Telecom (the country’s top telco provider) to come up second on the list.

Top local brands list

  1. Uni-president
  2. 55688 Taiwan Taxi
  3. Chunghwa Telecom
  4. Cosmed
  5. T-Cat
  6. Wei-Chuan
  7. CPC
  8. Best Value Home Taipei Dunbei
  9. Mei Ri C
  10. PX Mart

One reason for 55688’s rise is the downfall of Uber – a pattern we see in many Asian markets. Uber recorded a dramatic plunge from 28 to 315 in Taiwan this year and its poor performance is not for no reason.

For context, Uber was suspended for two months in 2017 and faced hefty government fines of US$6.3mil. After an appeal in court, the fines were dropped in May this year.

It doesn’t help that local taxi companies are also against Uber joining (and potentially overtaking) their market share.

Uber’s regulatory spat worsened when Emilie Potvin, Uber’s head of policy for North Asia, made comments to the press about the lack of cooperation from the Taiwanese government. According to Oliver Tsai, chief strategy officer for Isobar Taiwan, the comments were perceived by locals as “rude” and “arrogant”.

Uber drivers surrounds the Ministry of Transportation during a demonstration in Taipei

“We know that Uber is a sign of progress and innovation, but the personal comment that was made is too arrogant,” says Tsai. “There has also been some news about Uber drivers not being safe enough, because they charge directly to your card. In the news, there’s some dispute about getting charged for taxi rides you don’t take or getting charged extra. People do still use [Uber], but there are other alternatives.”

Jennifer Tang, CEO at Denstu Aegis Network Taiwan, says:  “Local taxi is still the local king. 55688 Taiwan Taxi works really closely with government, so the policy favours local taxis more than Uber. The whole ecosystem caused the results. And the 55688 founder is very aggressive, they try to digitise their services and incorporate mobile payments.”

On top of that, 55688 expanded their services to include services such as home cleaning and shopping. Consumers also get to choose between getting a yellow cab and a private driver – both options which are constantly inundated with promotions and discounts.

Martin Lu, brand strategy director at DDG, says that 55688 also launched a service this year for consumers who have had one too many drinks, and still want their cars to be safely parked in their driveways the next morning.

Another local company EasyTaxi climbed a massive 230 spots to 65 this year.
 

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