Ride-hailing app firm Uber will end its taxi service in Hong Kong next week to focus on its ride-sharing business in the territory it entered just over two years ago.
The announcement comes less than a week after Uber said it will pull out of Macau on 9 September after its drivers faced steep fines there.
Its retreat in Hong Kong isn’t a complete surprise – in June Uber’s head of Asia operations Allen Penn said it has shifted its focus in China towards its new carpool service, UberPool, which allows users to share rides and split the fare with other commuters, and that the new service has driven a lot of its growth in the mainland.
Uber launched its carpooling service in Jakarta and Manila in May and June, as it ramps up the service across the region to compete with local rivals.
But just last month Uber said on its website that its driver-partners in Hong Kong are spending 32 per cent less time idle than two years ago, which “means more time in their car, higher efficiency and more earnings”. It reduced the average estimated time of arrival from 9.7 minutes to 5.5 minutes.
It also said: “It’s been two years since we launched in Hong Kong, and our vision has remained the same.” It claimed more than two million trips in that time.
Uber insisted it is not pulling out of Hong Kong but is focusing on its carpooling business and moving to end its underused taxi service, the South China Morning Post said.
The closures in Hong Kong and Macau aren’t the only problems Uber is facing in Asia. Taiwan’s government said Uber owes sales taxes estimated at TWD100 million ($3.2 million) and it may force the taxi-hailing service to stop doing business in the country since it has misrepresented the nature of its operations.
And just a month ago Uber gave into shareholder pressure and merged its loss-making Chinese business with local rival Didi Chuxing, as it separately invested $500 million in a global mapping project. The merger, which requires regulatory approval, will pull together Didi’s car hailing business, valued at $28 billion, and Uber China, worth an estimated $7 billion.