New French-based ride-hailing app Kapten has launched in London with an advertising campaign that pulls no punches over its rival Uber for avoiding local taxes.

The campaign, including a massive billboard in London’s Leicester Square, went live with the wording “Others avoid paying VAT in the UK, that’s not uber cool”.

Kapten, formerly known as Chauffeur Privé, claims it pays taxes locally in every market in which it operates, contributing to local communities and economies. It attacked Uber for avoiding VAT on its service fee asit is registered in the Netherlands. “Uber had an estimated £1bn of ride bookings in the UK in 2018. If 20% VAT was added to its 25% commission, the UK Exchequer would get an additional £50m per year,” Kapten said in a statement.

Mariusz Zabrocki, London general manager of Kapten, said: “There has been one dominant, over-confident ride-hailing player in London and it’s time to shake things up. We believe London’s private-hire drivers, commuters and residents deserve better. Each time a Londoner takes an Uber ride, 60p is lost that could finance the NHS, schools and other parts of the UK economy.”

Kapten was acquired by Daimler AG in January 2018, and is also backed by BMW. It first launched in France as Chauffeur Privé in 2012, quickly becoming a major player in Paris, one of the most competitive markets in the world. Now the company has expanded into London, with an official TfL licence, following successful launches in Lisbon and Geneva.

Kapten serving London transport zones 1 to 5, and the app-based service is launching with a 50%-off offer on rides. After the launch, Kapten’s regular pricing will mean fares are on average 20% cheaper than Uber. Kapten trips in the congestion charge zone will be at least £2 cheaper than Uber due to congestion and clean-air fees.

Kapten also offers a fixed-price guarantee on fares, so customers will always know the exact price of the ride before booking a trip. Regular users will also benefit from a loyalty programme that will see users earning free rides, rewards from partners and enhanced referral bonuses.

For the past three months, Kapten team has been screening and training thousands of private-hire drivers face-to-face across London. All Kapten’s drivers are TfL’s licensed.

Kapten said it would cover congestion charge fees for the rest of 2019, and would offer additional rewards for plug-in hybrids and electric cars.