The taxi protests in major European cities may be the least of Uber’s problems soon. A new competitor is about to start operating in its stomping grounds in two huge markets, New York City and San Francisco, and it offers a unique business model that will cater to a very specific population, perhaps wooing potential customers away from Uber and taxis alike.
The company is called Yongche and it the goal is to provide drivers who are fluent in Mandarin to pick up customers landing at airports. It’s a brilliant idea; international travelers who can’t speak English will be able to hail a cab from Yongche and can be taken comfortably to any destination, speaking fluent Mandarin the whole time.
According to Bloomberg, the launch in San Francisco and New York will be followed by Boston and Los Angeles. Internationally, Yongche plans to operate in Singapoore, Taipei, Tokyo, Frankfurt and London, too. The company already has an established operation in China where it has 2 million active users and 50,000 cars, Bloomberg explained.
Presumably, Chinese customers who already use Yongche will land in the United States, fire up the application, and then use it right away – keeping them loyal to Yongche and out of Uber’s grip. For now it’s unclear if Yongche plans to add additional native language speaking drivers to its fleets to cater to all nationalities, or if it’s only sticking to Mandarin. Will Uber follow suit? It certainly seems possible.