Uber, the disruptive smartphone-powered taxi service, has touted plans to launch its UberX service in the German capital of Berlin, in the wake of a troubled period that has left the service with a driver shortage in some of the country's other major cities. Christian Freese, Uber's Germany chief, told weekly newspaper Welt am Sonntag on 8 May: "We are planning to start UberX in Berlin in June."
As reported by Reuters, Freese also hinted at plans to expand the firm's UberPool service into Germany, which allows several customers to share one vehicle to make fares more affordable.
Last year, a German court banned the San Francisco-based Uber from using unlicensed drivers after it was deemed to be in violation of the country's transport laws. Authorities warned that, if caught doing so, the service would face harsh fines of up to €250,000 (£197,000).
As reported by the BBC at the time, Uber officials said they regretted the clampdown and claimed it represented a "fundamental infringement" of its ability to establish and provide a service under EU law.
The legal case, which was launched by a German taxi group, is only one of many lawsuits the company has been forced to fight across Europe. For example, UberPop – an older iteration of UberX – was previously met with opposition in France, Belgium, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.
In light of the German court's decision, Uber has only been allowed to employ drivers that hold the relevant passenger transport licence to transport people using the UberX and UberBlack smartphone apps. However, as noted by Reuters, the service has run into a shortage of drivers over the past year and, as a result, currently only operates UberX in Munich.
In 2015, Uber slashed its services in other German cities and blamed the cutbacks on "complex" requirements in German law. In a statement sent to TechCrunch last year, Freese said: "Uber is increasingly popular in Munich and Berlin so we have decided to focus our efforts there and suspend our operations in Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Hamburg.
"We know this will be disappointing for riders and our partner drivers in those three cities, so we are looking at how we can support them. Uber remains committed to expanding its services in Germany, and will therefore continue its engagement and dialogue with politicians and regulators."