Tada plans premium taxi service

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Tada plans premium taxi service


Socar CEO Lee Jae-woong, right, and VCNC CEO Park Jae-uk discuss Tada’s new premium taxi service on Thursday at a press event in Seongdong District, eastern Seoul. [SOCAR]

Despite facing opposition from the taxi industry, van-hailing service Tada is looking to work with taxi drivers to launch a new premium taxi service.

VCNC, the company behind Tada, said Thursday it will launch its “Tada Premium” taxi service in April.

The premium taxi service will be different from regular taxis as it operates through a hailing and reservation system using Tada’s ride-hailing app and does not use taximeters. The new service, comparable to existing services such as UberBLACK and Kakao Black, will be available to both private and corporate taxi drivers who agree to offer more high-quality services.

VCNC is said to be discussing details with several taxi corporations for partnerships.

VCNC will start with 100 taxis in April and plans to link users to 1,000 taxis in the country by the end of this year. Fares for the new service will be at 100 to 120 percent of Tada’s current 11-seater van hailing service and cheaper compared to Kakao Black.

“Based on feedback we received from customers so far, there are people who are willing to reasonably pay the price for a premium service, and I believe this would create a new demand for taxi drivers who want to join our platform,” said VCNC CEO Park Jae-uk at a press event at Seongdong District, eastern Seoul.

Hwang Yoon-ik, business development division head for Socar, which owns VCNC, has been in charge of meeting with taxi companies for the project. Hwang said there are companies that actually expressed interest in its premium platform.

“Taxi companies have half of their cars just parked inside instead of running,” Hwang explained. “For them, it’s not competing with new taxis but making use of existing ones that otherwise wouldn’t be on business.”

On Monday, VCNC released a statement defending its business after the Seoul Private Taxi Association attacked the Tada service. VCNC argued that its legality has been approved on multiple accounts from public offices, counteracting the taxi organization’s claims that it was operating illegally.

“We believe there’s a misunderstanding of our business from several in the taxi industry,” said Socar CEO Lee Jae-woong at the press event. “We won’t counteract every account, but we will not stay still, especially if it regards picking on our drivers.”

Lee explained Tada was not targeting taxi customers, but was looking to attract people who currently drive private cars.

“We recently started offering Tada services to replace private vehicles offered to senior executives at mid-sized companies - as such, our goal is to create a new market,” he added.

Lee once again stated on Thursday that Tada was operating legally.

Tada’s troubles with the local taxi industry are just one example of a broader conflict that the ride-sharing and hailing industry faces. Kakao postponed the official launch of its carpool service last year after strong opposition from taxi drivers.

Tada has proven popular since its launch in October last year. It currently has 300,000 users and a reboarding rate of 89 percent, according to the company.

BY CHAE YUN-HWAN, SONG KYOUNG-SON [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]
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