After Uber launched its peer-to-peer car sharing service uberPOP in Paris, Brussels, and Barcelona, it’s now popped up in Berlin, entering a legal grey area.

UberPOP is one tier below UberX, the low-cost version of the black-car service currently available in the United States.

Car sharing has quite a history in Germany. Known long-distance car sharing platforms such as Mitfahrzentrale or mitfahrgelegenheit received more competition from blablacar in April 2013. For inner-city car sharing, WunderCar just launched, which allows users not to pay but tip their driver — something like Lyft.

While Mitfahrgelegenheit and blabla stress in their legal terms that the service should not be used to make profit, this is not the case at uberPOP.

Though this does not seem to be an issue in Paris, Barcelona, or Brussels, it might become one in Berlin. The German Public Transportation Act does not allow drivers to make profit through private transportation, which could soon cause legal issues for uberPOP.

Uber’s international launcher, Patrick Studener, explained to us that the sharing economy is disrupting old industries.

“These new, innovative products do not always clearly fall under existing frameworks, some of which pre-date the Internet and smartphones. This evolution needs to be addressed by lawmakers and conversations are ongoing,” he said.

“People want to share their car. Why shouldn’t we give them the opportunity to do so?” Studener asked.

Being aware of the fact that Uber is not the only one launching a peer-to-peer car sharing service, he explained that competition is what keeps companies and markets — and Uber itself — going.
Instead of owning a car, people could choose from many different options (such as public transportation, short time rental services like Car2Go or DriveNow, and taxis) to solve the urban transportation problem, he states.

Comparing prices, uberPOP is not only more expensive than WunderCar, but also more than Car2Go (0,29€/min) and DriveNow (starting at 0,31€/min).

uberPOP’s pricing is as follows:

Yet if you cannot (or do not want to) drive yourself, it could be a cheaper option than a taxi.
While external sources told us that the company does not perform as hoped, Studener states that user numbers in Berlin are growing weekly.

Where Uber wants to launch uberPOP next could not be said yet.

This story originally appeared on VentureVillage. Copyright 2014

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