ECONOMY

Uber’s CEO pleased with Chile business despite ongoing protests

SANTIAGO – In a recent visit to Chile, Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshani, met with government officials and took part in an event called “The Future of Urban Mobility in Chile.” Local taxi drivers have protested the presence of Uber in Chile since its arrival in 2014, but despites this, Khosrowshani expressed satisfaction with the growth of the company.

“I wanted to visit Chile because it represents one of the 10 most important markets in the world for Uber,” Khosrowshani said at The Future of Urban Mobility in Chile event. “We want to go to countries in which we have operations, to meet with local authorities, to meet with the drivers and see what we’re doing good and how we can improve.”

Uber plans to expand their current market reach in Chile by increasing the number of female and senior drivers, enabling these sections of the population to generate additional income through the app. They also want to reach more regions. “We don’t want to be the company that only does business where it is completely profitable and avoid the zones that are more challenging,” Khosrowshani said. “As part of that, now in Chile, we’re making the commitment to cover each part of the country with our service, from north to south, in each one of its regions.”

Meanwhile, Chile’s Congress is debating a proposed law that would regulate the activities of application companies such as Uber and Cabify, which in the past have been considered illegal by government authorities. In a study by the National Productivity Commission titled “Disruptive Technologies: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities”, Uber is cited as making a profit of over US$ 300 million last year.  The study finds that if Uber were to have the official Chilean tax applied, it would mean an annual revenue of  over US$ 30 million. This revelation could turn government officials into the perfect ally for Chile’s taxi drivers, who have been protesting the presence of Uber since it’s arrival four years ago.

In July 2017, over 3,000 taxi drivers took to the streets in capital Santiago to protest what they feel is “unfair competition” from ride service apps such as Uber and Cabify. Drivers were demanding new industry regulations to level the playing field for ordinary taxis. Union leaders claimed that when Uber entered the market, federal government failed to take steps to protect taxi drivers against the operations of ride apps, which quickly expanded from Santiago to cities like Viña Del Mar, Valparaiso, Concepcion and Temuco.

“Applications devastate taxis at night and during the day”, said Nicolas Sayes, a leader of the National Taxi Confederation. “This matter has gone on long enough and the situation is now extreme.” Sayes called on the Chilean authorities to put regulations in place that can protect the nearly 45.000 Chileans who earn their livelihood as taxi drivers.

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