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Saudi Arabia's Uber venture: a case of if you can't beat 'em join 'em

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James Talbot
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Photograph: Eric Risberg/AP

The global automotive industry and the oil majors are not known for meekly rolling over when a competitor comes along – from General Motors involvement in killing public transport in Los Angeles in the 1940s to Shell lobbying to undermine EU renewables targets in more recent years.

Ultimately, if Uber succeeds, it could be an existential threat for existing car companies.

Without the cost of drivers wages, the price of renting a taxi would plummet.

General Motors, meanwhile, has put $500m into Uber s rival Lyft, with a plan to both sell cars to drivers and to work together on driverless cars.

Together we will build a better future by redefining traditional car ownership, said Lyft s co-founder and president John Zimmer.

For the giant motor and oil companies, all these startup and tech investments represent a belt and braces approach to future proofing their businesses.

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James Talbot
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