Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Business | By Eloise Houston

India's Uber to enter UK ride-hailing market

India's Uber to enter UK ride-hailing market

Ola further said that it will become the only app in the British market to offer services across both private hire vehicles (PHVs) and black cabs.

In February, Ola launched operations in Australia, its first foray outside India and in one of Uber's strongholds where the Indian company now has 40,000 drivers on its platform across seven cities.

Indian ride-hailing company Ola announced on Tuesday (Aug 7) that it is to launch services in Britain, expanding its foray overseas and intensifying its battle with United States rival Uber.

Ola will initially side-step London, where Uber has just managed to garner a 15-month extension on its operating license, and will instead begin operations in South Wales and Greater Manchester, and is working with authorities to expand nationwide by the year-end.

Founded in 2011 in Mumbai by two graduates from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Ola now arranges 1bn rides each year globally, with more than 1 million drivers and 125 million customers in more than 110 cities. For example, all Ola drivers will have to pass checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service, and its app will hold a number of features for customer safety like emergency contact details.

Both Ola and Uber share a major backer: Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank.

Aside from Uber, Ola will be up against the rival ride-hailing app Gett, and the London-focused firms MyTaxi, Kabbee and Addison Lee.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA), which represents black taxi drivers, said: "The LTDA welcomes fair competition in London and would expect to see Ola play by the rules if granted a licence to operate in the capital". It is hugely popular in its home market of India, where Uber also operates.

Uber has also won considerable public backing: more than 8,00,000 had signed a petition urging TFL to change their decision. The UK would represent only its second global market outside of its home base in India.

Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and chief executive of Ola, said: "The UK is a fantastic place to do business and we look forward to providing a responsible, compelling new service that can help the country meet its ever-demanding mobility needs".

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