Daimler and BMW-backed Kapten rides into London with anti-Uber ad campaign

Kapten, the French ride-hailing app backed by Daimler and BMW, has today launched in London, coupled with a feisty ad campaign taking a swipe at Uber’s tax arrangements.

It follows Kapten (formerly called “Chauffeur Prive”) obtaining a license from TfL, London’s transport regulator, to operate its private-hire vehicle (PHV) service in the U.K. capital city. The company first launched in France in 2012, growing quickly in Paris, and has since expanded to Lisbon and Geneva.

Specifically, Kapten’s new billboard ad campaign calls out Uber for avoiding local sales tax: “Others avoid paying VAT in the UK – that’s not uber cool.” In contrast, Kapten says it pay taxes locally in every market in which it operates. The ad then goes on to tell Londoners that using Kapten “might just be your best decision today.”

In a press release driving home the point, Kapten notes that Uber has faced criticism in the U.K. for paying little tax to the U.K. government and avoiding VAT on top of its service fee due to the U.S. company’s Dutch tax location.

“Uber had an estimated £1bn of ride bookings in the U.K. in 2018. If 20 percent VAT was added to its 25 percent commission, the U.K. Exchequer would get an additional £50m per year,” says Kapten.

Meanwhile, Kapten’s newly launched London service should be available in zones 1 to 5 as of today. The ride-hailing app is also launching with a 50%-off offer on rides. After launch, Kapten claims that its low pricing will still mean fares are on average 20% cheaper than competitors.

“Trips in the congestion charge zone will be at least £2 cheaper than Uber due to congestion and clean-air fees,” says the French company, promising to cover the congestion charge on behalf of its drivers for the rest of 2019.

Adds Mariusz Zabrocki, London general manager of Kapten, in a statement: “There has been one dominant, over-confident ride-hailing player in London and it’s time to shake things up. We believe London’s private-hire drivers, commuters and residents deserve better. Each time a Londoner takes an Uber ride, 60p is lost that could finance the NHS, schools and other parts of the U.K.” economy.

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