A Russian ride-hailing app has launched in the UK

A Russian ride-hailing app that five years ago pulled out of London’s lucrative private transport market, has launched again in the UK capital with plans to plough hundreds of thousands of pounds into attracting drivers away from Uber. Wheely, which was founded by Anton Chirkunov, the son of Oleg Chirkunov, a former provincial governor, is spending £20,000 a week on incentives for drivers to join the app and £100,000 a month on marketing. Mr Chirkunov, 29, has sunk $13 million of his family’s real estate and retail fortune into the company since launching it in 2012. He is currently attempting to raise $20 million from institutional investors and carmakers to fuel his latest bid to expand into London. The last time Wheely launched in London it was forced to pull out after it failed to dislodge Addison Lee, then the UK’s largest minicab company. Mr Chirkunov then abandoned his original goal of creating a Russian answer to Lyft, the US ride-hailing company and Uber’s biggest competitor in its home market, and focused on the “premium” sector. Wheely’s app now even lets Muscovites hail a Maybach on demand… Wheely is now hoping to take advantage of Uber’s dispute with London’s transport authority… Uber has 3.5 million users and 50,000 drivers in London… Wheely… recently paid £150,000 to renew its London licence until 2023… The app has 150 drivers in London.
Max Seddon