File of transportation app Uber is seen on the iPhone of limousine driver Shuki Zanna in Beverly Hills. Reuters

The mobile car-sharing service Uber offered free rides in Cape Town all weekend to mark the launch of its low-cost version, UberX.

“We are thrilled to launch uberX in Cape Town,” Anthony le Roux, general manager for Uber Cape Town, said to HumanIPO. “The service will revolutionise the way Capetonians go about their daily lives. Our vision is that uberX will be so affordable and efficient that the need for car ownership in the city will soon become a thing of the past,” he said.

The budget version will run parallel to the high-end uberBLACK, which has been operating in Cape Town since last year. UberX passengers will pay $0.67 (7 rand) per kilometer, while UberBLACK users pay $1.03 (11 rand) per kilometer.

The San Francisco-based company already operates in 128 cities in 37 countries and earned a whopping $18.2 billion valuation from investors earlier this month.

But last week traditional taxi drivers snarled traffic in cities around Europe to protest the company’s policies, which they say infringe on their business.

In South Africa, Uber competes with local companies Zapacab and Snappcab that have similar platforms, if less global reach.