Uber has suspended Uber Pop in Spain, the company confirmed today, after it received confirmation of a court ruling that bans its ride-sharing service in the country.
Uber Pop, a European version of Uber X that uses everyday vehicles and provides bill-splitting options for passengers, arrived in Spain in April, and it has been under pressure for months in the country and in a number of other markets in Europe in recent times.
France will outlaw the service from January 1, and it has been banned in The Netherlands and Belgian capital Brussels too.
Uber said it is “temporarily suspending” the service in Spain after it receiving notice of an injunction against it. A court upheld a complaint from the Association Madrileña Del Taxi made earlier this month.
The company said it is “respecting the law” with its suspension, but it intends to appeal the ruling and also work with authorities for the future.
“During this temporary suspension of uberPOP, we will also collaborate with Spanish politicians to develop the modern framework needed to create a permanent home for Uber and the sharing economy – and fortunately Spanish leaders have already been standing up for the innovation economy,” Uber said in a blog post.
The company’s willingness to collaborate is an interesting one. Uber’s traditional approach to going head-on with, or even just ignoring, authorities seems to have taken a different tilt lately.
In addition to working with the government in Spain, it is pledging to collaborate with authorities in India (after its service was banned in New Delhi following a suspected rape) and Portland, where authorities issued a ban after the service launched without authorization.
There are a few important points of context here. In these cases, the cities and countries involved have gotten legally-backed bans against Uber — in Spain, for example, Uber waited to receive “the formal ruling” before taking action — but nonetheless the conciliatory approach could be in line with “a new Uber” that CEO Travis Kalanick recently spoke of.
In the wake of scandals following comments from Uber executive Emil Michael and the tracking of U.S. journalists, Kalanick pledged to do things differently.
“We will be making changes in the months ahead. Done right, it will lead to a smarter and more humble company that sets new standards in data privacy, gives back more to the cities we serve and defines and refines our company culture effectively,” Kalanick wrote.
It also stands to reason that Uber is open to collaboration because flying in the face of authority can only get you so far. To realize its vision of changing the world, Uber will need the buy-in of governments and organizations, particularly in Asia where the potential market is far larger than the U.S. and authorities are more prone to knee-jerk reactions and bans, as was the case in New Delhi, India.
Of course, more skeptical Uber watchers may argue that Uber has no choice but to comply with court rulings, and that is also certainly the case today in Spain. We’ll have to wait until 2015, and future Uber troubles, to know whether this leopard has really changed its spots.