Date
29 March 2017
The fare for a ride on an Uber-affiliated taxi is shown on the screen of a mobile phone using the service's booking app. Uber uses licensed taxi drivers to operate in Tokyo. Photo: Bloomberg
The fare for a ride on an Uber-affiliated taxi is shown on the screen of a mobile phone using the service's booking app. Uber uses licensed taxi drivers to operate in Tokyo. Photo: Bloomberg

Toyota gets Uber blowback from outraged Japanese taxi drivers

Toyota Motor Corp. raised an outcry among Japan’s taxi drivers after it forged a strategic alliance with ride-sharing service provider Uber Technologies Inc. in May.

The Japan Federation of Hire-Taxi Associations, which represents about 200,000 taxis nationwide, slammed Toyota for its collaboration with and investment in Uber during its annual meeting last month, Bloomberg reports.

Shortly after, Toyota president Akio Toyoda met and tried to reassure the federation’s chairman that the tie-up won’t affect Japan.

“Akio said to me, ‘Please believe in Akio Toyoda, rather than Toyota’, and proposed we join hands to promote projects for the future of Japan’s taxi industry,” chairman Masataka Tomita said in a June 23 speech posted on the federation’s website.

“From the eyes of Japan’s taxi industry, Toyota is sending supplies to our enemy.”

The carmaker enjoys an 80 percent share of the nation’s cab fleet, according to the taxi federation.

Last year, Toyota sold 6,600 Crown Comfort and Comfort sedans to taxi companies across the country.

Tokyo’s taxi companies will shift as much as 30 percent of their fleets to an LPG-powered hybrid from Toyota, purchasing about 10,000 of the new cabs in time for the 2020 Olympic Games, Ichiro Kawanabe, chairman of the Tokyo Hire-Taxi Association, said in September.

Toyota’s global rivals, including General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG, have set up their own rival ride-sharing alliances.

Yet, the blowback to Uber and the ride-sharing revolution has been far more intense in Japan, despite calls from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a visit to Silicon Valley last year for his country to embrace the internet economy or risk losing vitality.

– Contact us at english@hkej.com

RA/CG

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