Another ride sharing app launches in London today, the latest to challenge Uber's crown.
Bolt (which formerly Taxify) claims to be the fastest-growing on-demand transportation platform, with over 25 million customers in 30 countries and 100 cities.
How's the app changed since TfL abruptly disallowed it in 2017? Bolt now has a special category for electric cars in several of its cities, and says it will be exploring options in London in the future, working with TfL to ensure that "an at-scale network of fast charging options becomes available for electric vehicles".
An in-app 'panic button' for passengers and drivers is also being sold as a USP, promising a "safer ride".
And Bolt says it is fairer to its driver, taking just 15% commission — up to half that of other operators. (In our own experience, we find that drivers in London tend to flit between apps, depending on who's offering the best dividends at the time.)
Markus Villig, founder and CEO of Bolt, said:
We're excited to be entering the UK market by launching Bolt in the nation's vibrant and cosmopolitan Capital. London deserves more choice in ride-hailing and we believe Bolt offers what passengers and drivers want: a fair, reliable and affordable service.
As the French ride sharing app Kapten did a couple of weeks ago, Bolt is offering an initial 50% off rides for customers. In the long run, it says it will be "5% and 10% cheaper" than its rivals. On further prodding, the company admits that this claim refers to Uber, rather than Kapten, which already claims to be thriftier than its US-established rival.
Is this the beginning of a more competitive market; forcing Uber to reassess its prices, and its sometimes-extortionate surge charges? Perhaps, although let's not forget that for all its box-office success, Uber has still failed to make a profit. These smaller apps have no small challenge on their hands.