Daimler to take stake in UK taxi app Hailo

The Ft reports that Daimler will increase its drive into the world of car booking services by taking a stake in Hailo, the UK taxi app.

The owner of Mercedes-Benz will announce a deal to partner with the service as early as Tuesday, according to people briefed on the matter, write Peter Campbell in London and James Fontanella-Khan in New York.

It already owns MyTaxi, a German company it bought in 2014 that links consumers to nearby taxis.

The deal will be the latest advancement by automakers into ride booking services, which many in the industry believe may be the future of urban transport.

General Motors has made a $500m investment in US group Lyft, Volkswagen has taken a $300m stake in Israeli app Gett, and Toyota has announced an undisclosed investment in Uber.

These deals allow the car makers to develop on-demand services and share technology with the app groups.

They also propel the car groups to the front of the queue to sell vehicles to taxi operators or minicab drivers, in a time when personal ownership is expected to dwindle in city centres – especially among younger people – and be replaced with a greater number of “on demand” services.

The founder of Gett, Shahar Waiser, has predicted that within a decade, half of all journeys made will be using a vehicle summoned by an app.

While services such as Gett and Hailo link consumers with taxi drivers, Uber has its own drivers who do not have to be members of a taxi group.

Hailo, which launched in 2011, has not been without setbacks in its journey so far, and has been seeking a strategic investor for some time.

The company, which has raised around $100m to date, pulled out of the US and Canadian markets in 2014 after saying that strong competition from Uber and Lyft rendered it unprofitable. At the same time, Jay Bregman, co-founder and co-chief executive, left the company.

Its current investors include investment group Accel, Wellington Partners and Sir Richard Branson. The group continues to operate in cities across Europe including London, Madrid, Barcelona and Dublin.

In 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available, Hailo Network Holdings Limited reported a pre-tax loss of £10m.

Hailo and Daimler were not immediately available for comment. The planned investment by Daimler was first reported on the Sky News website.

source: http://www.ft.com/