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Uber's Premium Taxi Service UberBlack Reboots Operations After Complying With Government Regulations on Commercial Lincenses

by Therese Agcopra / Nov 11, 2015 12:04 PM EST
Uber's luxury sedan services UberBlack will resume operations in South Korea by the end of the year. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Uber Technologies Inc. has returned to South Korea to re-launch its premium taxi service UberBlack after it ran into some legal issues, met complaints from taxi drivers and eventually shut down its operations in March this year.

Previously, South Koreans were prohibited under South Korean to avail of UberBlack, a service a uses luxury private vehicles driven by hired drivers to ferry passengers around, the Wall Street Journal noted Tuesday. Under the new rules, Uber's drivers will have to be commercially licensed to operate their own vehicles in picking up passengers through the ride-hailing app.

In partnership with Hyundai Motor Group, drivers without their own cars will be given a discount on the K9 luxury sedan manufactured by Kia Motors, an affiliate of Hyundai.

According to the Financial Times Tueday, UberBlack was previously limited to a specific group of people such as foreigners, government officials and person with disabilities. By the end of the year, UberBlack will become available to the general public.

On the other hand, UberTaxi, in which taxi drivers are hooked up with the Uber app to pair them with passengers, has been operating in the country under a low profile, noted Fortune.

Drivers without commercial license using their own cars to drive passengers around, a service feature unique to UberX, is still not allowed under South Korean laws.

Despite Uber's efforts to comply with strict regulations, far fewer taxi drivers are registered to Uber. This puts the company in a tight competition with Kakao Taxi which currently has around 160,000 licensed drivers signed up with their services.

Kakao has also launched the Kakao Taxi Black last week, a premium service similar to the newly re-designed UberBlack concept. Kakao Taxi Black boasts an initial line-up of 200 Mercedes and Lexus cars and the company is planning to expand their fleet depending on the demand.

"As long as Uber does business within the legal boundaries, there is no problem for us," Korea Taxi Workers' Union policy department chief Kim Seong Jae said.

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