The taxi and chauffeur industry, innovation and legal experts, mobility startups, press, politicians, and even established mobility corporations were found in one room yesterday in Berlin. They were there to discuss the future of mobility in Germany, and indeed some heated debates were seen!
Blacklane organised the “Mobilität im Wandel – Fortschritt oder Stillstand?” (Mobility in Transition) conference which took place in Berlin’s Ritz-Carlton hotel. The attendees and speakers included such names as Mr. Michael Müller, the President of the German Taxi and Car Hire Association, Sabine Toepfer Kataw, Secretary of State in the Senate Department of Justice and Consumer Protection, Kai Wegner of the CDU/CSU political party, Fabien Nestmann, the General Manager and spokesperson for Uber Germany, Robert Henrich, the director of moovel GmbH, Matthias Siedler, founder and CTO of carpooling.com, as well as the mobility experts and journalists, Jens Tönnesmann and Christian Schlesiger as moderators.
Before we start with the main points of interest, Blacklane would like to thank all of the visitors and especially the speakers and panelists for coming to the Ritz-Carlton.
The day started with a Keynote from Kai Wegner who said: Even if the Passenger Transport Act is outdated in some eyes, you have to respect this. Any company that fails to do so violates the law and is illegal. The demand for transport services of all kinds is growing massively – especially in cities – therefore it is important that we gather here today to discuss.
Fabien Nestmann of Uber had this to say about passenger transportation: “The passenger transport law needs to be rethought. The law must be adapted to new times.” Which was met with Michael Müller saying: “The internet does not change reality. We do not have to change the laws just because the internet exists.”
In the first round of discussions, which were to do with regulating the mobility industry, it was agreed that in future we must enter into a lengthy dialogue to allow for new opportunities within the legal framework. The most daring statement came from Sabine Toepfer Kataw, in which she hypothesised that Uber and the taxi agencies will not survive the next five years.
After the break, where all were able to strengthen and could continue talking, Blacklane’s CEO and co-founder, Jens Wohltorf had the stage. He made it clear that the industry should move together, that one should be aware of one’s individual strengths and that the success of one does not preclude the success of another. He also insisted that innovation and successful business works in accordance with prevailing laws. Sometimes the road is perhaps a little gritty, but the success built through this is on solid ground. Therefore, it is important that not all new companies are lumped together. It is sad that the whole of the mobility startup industry is under suspicion of operating illegally. Blacklane has not yet had a single legal dispute.
In summary it can be said that Blacklane made its position clear: “Let us enter into a dialogue instead of declare war on each other in court…. Let us stand together for fair competition… Let us dare to cooperate more and have less conflict… The customer will thank us ultimately.”