Seoul starts taxi service with BMWs, Mercedes

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Seoul starts taxi service with BMWs, Mercedes

A taxi service offering rides in luxury vehicles like Mercedes-Benzes will start in Seoul in October.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said in a statement that a new taxi service provider named High End will begin trial runs with 100 luxury vehicles in October. Investors include Korea Smart Card and Daum Kakao.

The city government said the service will be integrated with existing taxi companies. They will provide the vehicles and drivers, and High End will manage parts of the operation, including the training of drivers.

Taxi companies will have to get licenses to operate luxury vehicles with engine displacements of 2,800 cubic centimeters (171 cubic inches) and above. That would include Mercedes, BMWs, Audis and the Hyundai Equus.

High End will operate the service through reservations, similar to Uber, the American app-based taxi service. The vehicles will not have taxi indicator lamps or meters.

An official from the city government said High End is different from Uber because it will operate with drivers who already have taxi licenses.

Fares will be more expensive than deluxe taxis, which have a flagfall of 5,000 won ($4.29). The monthly wage for the service’s drivers will be around 3 million won, which is higher than the 2.15 million won earned by the average regular taxi driver.

BY KIM NA-HAN, NAM YOON-SEO [nam.yoonseo@joongang.co.kr]

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