This morning Lior Ron, Head of Uber Freight, wrote in a blog post that the digital brokerage will expand its operations into Europe. The Netherlands is the first European market Uber Freight will enter, Ron wrote, and carriers will be able to book their first loads with Uber Freight in April.
This announcement marks Uber Freight’s first international expansion.
The European truckload market is a $400 billion industry and the third largest in the world after China and the United States, according to Uber Freight, and it is plagued by many of the same problems as the North American trucking industry. Human dispatchers take hours to book single loads; capacity is fragmented, with 85% of trucks belonging to small or mid-sized carriers. Twenty-one percent of all kilometers driven by trucks are empty kilometers, according to Uber Freight.
“A more efficient and transparent freight marketplace is something Uber Freight can bring to the table that will pay dividends to all, as well as reduce wasted miles and fuel,” Ron wrote.
The decision to forego the Chinese market, for now, is not surprising. The Chinese government makes it difficult for foreign companies to do business there, and the digital freight brokerage space is already dominated by the Manbang Group, founded in 2017 through a merger of truck-hailing unicorns Yunmanman and Huochebang. In 2018, Softbank Vision Fund and Alphabet led a massive $1.9 billion round for Manbang.
Europe’s trucking industry also faces the same demographic challenges as the United States: an aging driver workforce and an acute attrition rate that is leaving large economies like Germany with fewer and fewer truck drivers each year. The looming European capacity crunch, if it materializes, will make the work that digital brokerages do in pricing and load-matching all the more necessary and all the more difficult.