Free Now gives up competing with Uber and Bolt and leaves Portugal | Transport

Free Now, one of the three companies operating in the TVDE market at national level, will close its operation in Portugal at the end of the next 3rd of April, according to a message that was sent this Friday to its customers.

“It was a difficult decision to make and we are extremely grateful for all the passengers and drivers who made our stay in Portugal better”, said Free Now in its message, in which it did not mention the reason for its departure.

The company, linked to Daimler and BMW, points out that it continues to operate in “more than 170 cities” with means of transport, from TVDE to bicycles, passing through scooters. In Portugal, Bolt and Uber also operate, with Free Now being the only one that also provided access to taxis. The company emerged from the merger of several brands, such as Mytaxi and Chauffer Privé/Kapten.

In early 2021, the then director of Free Now, Sérgio Pereira, stated in an interview with PÚBLICO that the Portuguese market is “very sensitive to price”, and that this meant that there was “a little more competition in Portugal between platforms than in other markets”. The war is waged largely on the basis of discounts on the cost of travel, something that, he pointed out, “is not sustainable in the long term”.

The company’s departure comes at a time when the Government is finalizing the proposal to amend the law in force, which dates from 2018, after having received the assessments of the Mobility and Transport Institute (IMT) and the Mobility and Transport Authority. Transport (AMT). In November 2019, Cabify also announced that it would stop operating in the Portuguese market.

The IMT states that at the end of August 2021 there were 8494 licensed operators – unknown how many were, in fact, active –, of which 67% were located in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (AML) and 17% in the Porto Metropolitan Area ( AMP).

On that same date, there were 30,314 certified drivers (again, not knowing how many are actually working, just as the number of TVDE in circulation is not known), of which 65.5% in AML and 16.6% in AMP and, according to the IMT, “90.8% of the total certificates issued remained valid”. According to this organization, 64.7% of certified drivers are Portuguese, followed by those of Brazilian nationality, with 18.7%.

In the first nine months of 2021, according to the IMT, 107,600 trips were made per day, up from 99,300 in 2019 and 80,900 in 2020. sector, the lack of a certified driver has a weight of 22.7%, below the absence of a TVDE identification sign (27.7%) and late inspection (25.7%).

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