Uber’s new European boss Jamie Heywood gave a speech in London on Wednesday.
Heywood said that Uber is opening a “new chapter” in London after its licence was renewed for a 15-month period.
His rhetoric is indicative of a shift in Uber’s corporate strategy, with an emphasis on cooperating with regulators to make cities less congested and air-polluted.
Heywood admitted that Uber has been less than cooperative in the past.
He outlined plans to bring in new passenger safety features, benefits for drivers, and a move into electric scooters.
Uber’s attitude to city regulators may have taken a U-turn.
The ride-hailing app’s new European director Jamie Heywood gave a speech at the London Infrastructure Summit on Wednesday, and his tone was considerably more conciliatory than what Uber is known for, having famously butted heads with city officials around the world.
The speech comes a little over two months after Uber won back its licence to operate in London, although the licence only lasts for 15 months, during which time it was instructed to get its house in order.
Heywood said that the last few years have been a “bumpy road” for the company, which has been plagued by a host of scandals, including allegations of a toxic corporate culture, inadequate background checks, and deploying software called “Greyball” to evade authorities.
Since having its licence restored, Heywood said the company is opening “a new chapter” in London. He announced that Uber will be introducing new safety features for passengers, plus sick leave as well as paternity and maternity protections for drivers.
He also said that Uber will be adopting a “new more cooperative approach to how we work with regulators and cities.” This is a far cry from the regulation-resistant image Uber has garnered in the past.
In large part Heywood’s speech focused on Uber integrating into the infrastructure of London’s transport system. He said that Uber’s biggest competition is individual car ownership, not taxi firms.
“We believe that with great public transport, infrastructure that better supports cycling, apps like Uber filling in the gaps — especially in the outer parts of cities — and yes, black cabs too — there will one day be no need for individuals to own their own car.”
Heywood laid emphasis on the potential for people to carshare using Uber, thereby reducing congestion and pollution.
He acknowledged this spirit of cooperation represents something of a character change, as he said working with others is “not something Uber has always been good at in the past.” But he reiterated that the company is now “committed to doing things differently.”
He also made mention of electric scooter services, but couched it by saying that this will be an option in “some countries.” Electric scooters have led to disagreements with city regulators before, and in the UK they are banned by a 183-year-old law originally intended to regulate horse-drawn carriages.
Uber has been making a lot of noise about becoming less combative with regulators, in July even hiring its first Compliance and Ethics Officer. Heywood’s speech is another …read more
Source:: Business Insider