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Uber bows to pressure from German officials

The ride-hailing company changes its service and lowers its fees in Frankfurt and Munich to comply with local regulations. It's already agreed to similar alterations in Berlin, Duesseldorf and Hamburg.

Uber alters its service in Frankfurt to comply with rules from German authorities. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Uber has caved in to pressure from German officials and agreed to alter its service in Frankfurt and Munich, according to Reuters. The ride-hailing company will now have the same rates as local taxi companies and charge 35 cents per kilometer.

The move comes after a German court issued a preliminary decision last month to institute a countrywide ban on UberPop, the low-cost version of Uber's service. Uber, which connects passengers with drivers via a smartphone app, has already agreed to change its UberPop service in Berlin, Duesseldorf and Hamburg.

Uber, one of the world's most valuable venture-backed companies, with a valuation of $41 billion, has faced regulatory hurdles around the world in countries like Spain, France, Korea and the US, but this is one of the first times it's decided to comply with authorities rather than fight them.

Uber said Tuesday that the German decision was "a defeat for all those who want more choice for their personal mobility," according to Reuters.

The preliminary decision about the ban on UberPop, issued by a three-judge panel in the Frankfurt District Court in Germany, meant Uber had to alter its service or face fines of up to 250,000 euros (about $266,000).

Uber's car-sharing service is broken into several categories. Uber Black is the standard Uber service, providing customers the ability to hail a "high-end sedan" piloted by an Uber driver. The company's Uber Taxi operates in a fashion similar to other taxi services and uses the same kinds of cars that competitors do. UberPop, meanwhile, is a low-cost service similar to UberX in the US.

Unlike other Uber services that have drivers with taxi licenses who operate a vehicle designed for taxiing people back and forth, UberX (or UberPop as it's been known in Germany and Paris) lets people use their own cars to pick up others and bring them wherever they're going.

The ban against UberPop in Germany was brought on by a lawsuit filed by local taxi consortium Taxi Deutschland, which argued that UberPop is illegal because its drivers don't have the proper license. The judges said all drivers who taxi people to different locations must have a proper license.

Uber didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.