The smartphone-based Uber car hire service, which was born on the U.S. West Coast, has spread to a number of other cities in North America such as New York as well as other parts of the world, including Tokyo.

Its success in reaching more than 210 cities, achieved in the roughly four years since it was launched, is a gauge of the support it has gained from consumers in these markets. It has also led to fierce competition with taxis and new entrants offering similar services.

In New York, home to thousands of Yellow Cab taxis, users of Uber's application can order a nearby car to come to a designated location using a GPS-enabled smartphone. The app provides the name of the driver and the expected time of arrival.