Exclusive: Mexico could be first in world to limit Uber cars

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 10, 2015 1:42 PM

By Max De Haldevang

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico City could become the first city in the world to limit the number of Uber cars, draft regulation shows, in the latest potential hurdle for the ride-hailing service that has spurred a regulatory backlash around the globe.

The San Francisco-based company would also have to use vehicles costing a minimum of 250,000 pesos ($15,883) that are no more than seven years old, according to the draft plan drawn up by the Mexico City government seen by Reuters on Friday.

A Mexico City government official working on the regulation confirmed the details of the document, which was drafted on Thursday and is expected to be finished next week. The official noted that details of the draft are still being negotiated.

Uber said it could not comment since it has not seen the draft, which does not specify the car limit, leaving the number to the Mexico City transport ministry's discretion.

Regulation by Mexico City would be the first for Uber in Latin America and is also set to apply to other ride-hailing apps such as Cabify.

Uber's public policy chief Corey Owens said this week in an interview he strongly opposed limiting its fleet of cars.

"Imposing some arbitrary cap on the number of vehicles would simply create the same problems that Mexico City residents have suffered in the existing taxi industry," he said.

Owens said no city has imposed a cap on the number of Uber cars in circulation to date.

Ruben Alcantara, a taxi union leader, said he would demand that Uber's cars cost at least 400,000 pesos when he meets with the government to discuss the regulation on Monday.

Uber, which has been valued at over $40 billion, opened in Mexico City in 2013 and says it is one of its fastest-growing markets with 500,000 customers.

The planned regulation would also require the company's drivers to have permits and to pay a percentage of its revenue to a city transport fund, as shown by an earlier draft obtained by Reuters.

A city official said on Tuesday the permits were expected to cost 1,599 pesos a year and the revenue levy would be 1.5 percent, a figure that Owens put at the "high end" of what the company pays in other major cities.

The figures could still change, officials say.

(Reporting by Max de Haldevang; Editing by Dave Graham, Bernard Orr)