By Kevin Kline

The message is plastered on walls, cars, and even a temporary platform road. If you didn’t know, the ride-hailing app Hailo is transforming into mytaxi. Brands come and go, but this change is part of a massive evolution for anything that moves you from point A to point B.

Several automotive companies are rapidly becoming technology companies too. Ford invested in Google and Uber. General Motors invested in Lyft.  That’s what is happening with the Hailo rebrand too.

Daimler AG, owner of the Mercedes and Smart car brands also owns mytaxi. In the last few years, Daimler has launched or purchased multiple transportation tech firms including car2go as well as Ridescout and Globe Sherpa which now operate as Moovel.

“Daimler is placing a handful of bets,” says Gary Bramall, Chief Marketing Officer for mytaxi. “We know [auto and technology] businesses are going to converge. The biggest question for all of us is when.”

There’s a lot of discussion about the future of ride-hailing apps. Many futurists predict roads will be full of autonomous vehicles hailed as a service. In that world, you and I likely won’t own cars and there won’t be much of a need for drivers either.

However, in the perspective of companies like mytaxi, the driver is very much part of the future. Bramall pointed out a conference where executives from retailer John Lewis said employees will still be working out on the floor. Despite automation, not much replaces the human connection.

“There’s a lot of things that we can do in the taxi space with drivers that are going to innovate and improve things,” says Bramall.

Instead of replacing human drivers, Bramall says mytaxi wants to make their work more profitable with potential discounts on cars (probably Daimler cars) and incentives so riders avoid heavy traffic.
“Our goal really is to make drivers get more jobs, reduce their costs, and be able to improve their working lives,” says Bramall.

As mytaxi’s €5 million marketing campaign in Ireland gets underway, they seem focused on getting drivers online first and foremost. Encouraging passengers is a secondary goal.
Generally speaking, there are not many changes for the drivers besides the branding. Mytaxi uses a different app, but they still take the same percentage of each fare.

However, several drivers say they had issues with mytaxi’s technology. For example, two drivers told me the mytaxi maps were not as accurate as Hailo’s apps. I reached out to a spokesman, who says they just added the option to choose between the older Hailo maps or the newer ones. That should fix the problem, he said.

It is this evolution that will be critical for mytaxi to succeed in Ireland. There are not really any ride-hailing competitors operating here. Uber has a much smaller market footprint in Dublin than it does in most other major cities. In fact, mytaxi’s biggest competitor is the cab or not using a service at all.

Ireland is a small market but also a perfect market for mytaxi according to Bramall. The wet and cooler climate means it is sometimes less desirable to walk. Parking can be tight. Also, Bramall says every time there is a transit strike, it increases demand for taxis and ride-hailing drivers.

Bramall says about 20% of people in Ireland have the app. Part of the reason for the major marketing push is to keep those customers.

“The guys here have created a verb. You ‘Hailo’ a taxi,” says Bramall. “From a rebranding perspective, it’s a huge challenge to take something that’s loved and been nurtured.”
Bramall says Hailo felt like an Irish brand despite coming from a London taxi company. With the rebrand, they hope to give Irish people one app that can work across much of Europe. It will also make it easier for travelers coming to Dublin.

So as the posters come down, there will be plenty of developments to come with mytaxi. The company appears willing to evolve to keep drivers and riders happy. Still, the entire transportation industry is poised a massive sea changes. In the long-run, this rebranding will seem like a small ripple.

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