Uber chases ‘superapp’ by adding planes, trains and rental cars

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi speaks at a product launch event in San Francisco, California on September 26, 2019.

Philip Pacheco | AFP via Getty Images

Uber is driving ahead with its plan to become a travel “superapp”.

The San Francisco-headquartered firm announced Wednesday that it is adding trains, buses, planes and car rentals to its UK app this year. The move is part of a pilot that could be expanded to other countries at a later date if it goes well.

While Uber will not provide these travel services itself, it will allow users to book them through its app following software integrations with airlines, inter-city bus and rail operators, and car rental companies.

The tech giant, which may take a cut on each booking, said it plans to announce various partners in the coming months.

Uber said the integrations will help boost app usage among its users in the UK, who also have the choice of using apps like Bolt and Free Now. The UK is one of Uber’s largest markets outside the US

Jamie Heywood, Uber’s boss in the UK, said in a statement that Uber hopes to become “a one-stop-shop for all your travel needs.”

“You have been able to book rides, bikes, boat services and scooters on the Uber app for a number of years, so adding trains and coaches is a natural progression,” he said.

He added: “Later this year we plan to incorporate flights, and in the future hotels, by integrating leading partners into the Uber app to create a seamless door-to-door travel experience.”

Uber also plans to let people buy Eurostar train tickets through the app. Eurostar allows travelers to commute from London to Paris and other cities via the Channel Tunnel.

The announcement comes after a recent win for Uber.

On March 26, Uber secured a 30-month license to continue operating in London, ending a protracted battle with city regulators over whether the ride-hailing app was “fit and proper.”

But the company is behind schedule on its “superapp” plans.

In 2018, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he wanted to add more transportation options to the app.

“It’s fair to say that Covid made it a little bit hard for us to progress as quickly as we would like,” Heywood reportedly told The Financial Times.

In premarket trading Wednesday, Uber’s share price was down 1.6% to $ 34.40 at 6:40 am ET.

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