Japan's Sony to form alliance to build taxi-hailing system

Japan's Sony to form alliance to build taxi-hailing system

Japan's Sony to form alliance to build taxi-hailing system

UBER Technologies Inc. isn't ready to give up the world.

"In Japan we are very focused on partnering with the existing taxi players", Dara Khosrowshahi, who is visiting Japan for the first time, said in an interview with Kyodo News.

Uber now provides its ride-hailing services to limousines in Tokyo but has started to form an alliance with several taxi companies including Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo Co. headquartered in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture. The new approach might hold more promise, but Sony will likely pose some serious competition.

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Sony's plans come after Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing announced earlier this month a deal with Japanese telecom firm SoftBank to develop a taxi app in Japan. Amid heavy operating losses, Uber has retreated from some markets, including China and Russian Federation.

The company's ride-sharing service, one of Uber's key operations that involves private vehicles, has been challenged by Japanese regulations, while being allowed only in limited locations - some rural areas in Hokkaido and Kyoto Prefecture. However, has not did not stopped Uber itself from attempting to enter market. Last November the ride-sharing company announced a partnership with NASA in their efforts to take their app to the skies.

While Uber has clashed with taxi rivals and regulators around the world, it has played by the rules in the archipelago, relegating its business to auto hires and a ride-sharing program for the elderly in a small rural town.

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Uber still faces an uphill battle in Japan. App developer JapanTaxi announced a partnership with Toyota on February 8 that will see the automaker invest 7.5 billion yen ($70 million) in the unit of Nihon Kotsu, one of the country's largest taxi operators.

USA -based Uber Technologies is in talks to offer dispatch systems to taxi providers including Japan's Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo. Uber says its business now serves more than 15 trillion trips per day, globally. The joint venture will also create a new digital payment service, the report said. Khosrowshahi additionally said Uber will concentrate this year on extending its quality in Japan. By combining Uber's brand, technology, along with demand from tourists and partnerships with the taxi industry, he said the result would be a "win-win" for Uber and the taxi industry. That's a turnaround from previous boss Travis Kalanick who largely left the country in the hands of a country manager.

Kawanabe has set up its own taxi-hailing company, JapanTaxi, winning investment from Toyota Motor Corp along the way, and has 60,000 taxis registered with the service.

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Sony's announcement adds another player to the already fiercely competitive Japanese taxi app market.

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