Patrick Stal, Head of Marketing for EMEA, on the image of Uber and the future of mobility.
Where is Uber currently?
Uber currently operates in over 600 cities in 65 countries. About 15 million journeys are arranged via the app every day. In total there are well over three million drivers around the world who regularly use the app. In Switzerland we operate in four cities and have roughly 300,000 active users.
Uber has been a frequent target of criticism recently. What’s changed?
Uber made mistakes in the past. We concentrated too much on growing our business instead of being a good partner for cities and drivers. Things have changed now. We know that our drivers cherish the flexibility and independence which the app offers them. Naturally we are also looking into the question of social security cover. For instance, working in partnership with AXA we offer free insurance for drivers in almost all European countries.
Inner-city mobility is currently undergoing major changes. How will people get around in future?
Traffic levels are increasing in cities, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to move around quickly and cheaply. As our cities continue to grow, we need new forms of mobility which are not centred on privately-owned cars. Instead there has to be a mix of various types of transport, with public transport as a key element which is supplemented by new mobility solutions, such as bike sharing and on-demand services like Uber or taxis.
What are Uber’s aims in all of this?
We would like to turn Uber into a real mobility platform. We want to make it possible for people to use various means of transport with our app, ranging from electric bicycles to public transport and various delivery services (such as Uber Eats). The aim is for the customer to put together his or her journey in the most convenient way possible: whether it’s using trams, buses, trains, taxis, bicycles or Uber.
The key to it all is AI: How long will it take for self-driving cars to make their breakthrough?
There will be a mixture of human drivers and self-driving technology for many years to come. There is little doubt that the technology will soon be able to be used for short journeys, and will consequently reduce traffic levels because much better use will be made of the cars, which will be an alternative to owning your own car. However, there will still be many circumstances in which people will be needed behind the steering wheel.
Uber has also announced that it wants to move people around in taxi drones. How far are we from this?
I’m sure that flying taxis will be with us in the not too distant future. We’re working hard on getting the first flying taxis into the air by 2023. Then we and our children will no longer move around in our cities in just one dimension.
Patrick Stal is the Head of Marketing for EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) at Uber, and he heads up a team of over 200 marketing professionals. They work tirelessly every day to strengthen and further develop the Uber brand.
Before he moved to Uber he held leading marketing positions at TomTom and he also managed the Benelux business of the leading brand consultancy, Interbrand. He began his career in a management consultancy. Patrick Stal is half Dutch and half German, and he speaks four languages fluently. He lives in the Netherlands and has two daughters.