Uber Freight to launch in Europe

Uber Freight to launch in Europe

Uber Freight, the freight arm of the US tech firm, is set to expand into Europe, beginning first in the Netherlands.

The Uber Freight app, which was launched in the US two years ago, connects haulage companies with loads, giving drivers upfront pricing, payment and the ability to book a load.

Uber said it has made "exciting inroads" since the launch, bringing “new opportunities to the entire logistics ecosystem” and the expansion into Europe is a first step toward bringing "a more efficient, transparent freight marketplace to the international stage”.

Lior Ron, Head of Uber Freight, said: “The logistics industry is the backbone of the European economy and a sector Uber is committed to serving. The European truckload market is a $400 billion marketplace and is the third-largest in the world after China and the US, yet it still takes dispatchers and drivers multiple hours —  sometimes even days — of administrative work to book a single load.  

“European shippers and carriers have many of the same pain points as their US counterparts and can benefit from the technology Uber Freight has developed. For example, the European trucking market is experiencing a severe shortage of drivers, and of the time drivers are on the road, 21% of total kilometres travelled are empty. Inefficiency of this scale results in shippers struggling to find available drivers to move their goods. 

“Additionally, small- to medium-sized carriers in the EU make up more than 85% of the total carrier pool, and just like in other international freight markets, they experience the most difficulty connecting with larger shippers. When you combine these shortcomings in the market, the price of goods goes up. A more efficient and transparent freight marketplace is something Uber Freight can bring to the table that will pay dividends to all, as well as reduce wasted miles and fuel."

He added: “Uber is a global company with a global mindset for its freight business... As we grow, we will endeavour to be a reliable partner to European carriers, shippers, and everyone who’s working to build a bright future for Europe’s logistics industry.”

Uber Freight will operate under Dutch law as a ‘freight forwarder’ (expediteur). This means that it will connect shippers that want to ship their goods to carriers that comply with applicable rules. 

Uber will look to expand into other European countries “in time, and in close partnership with the appropriate stakeholders”.

Broadly welcoming the move, the European Shippers’ Council said Uber Freight could be an option for shippers to “lessen the shortage of drivers”.

An ESC spokeswoman said: “As a large number of drivers are going to retire in the years to come, shippers will face a severe lack of drivers. However, for some cargo, such as bonded goods or hazardous cargo, it is important that the haulier meets certain criteria. For shippers, in these situations, it is important that the services provided by Uber comply with specific regulations.” 

Logistics obervers believe Uber will face stiff competition in the road freight market, which has been using load-matching technology and brokerage services for several years already, Lloyd's Loading List reported.