Ola to launch operations in UK soon, pilots in Manchester


India’s biggest cab-hailing company Ola, after launching its operation in first overseas market in Australia, is all set to launch its operations in the UK.

The ride-hailing firm is planning to set up operation in Manchester first and then expand to other parts of the country, reports the ken quoting sources privy to the development.

Manchester is known to have a huge Indian diaspora, which the Bengluru-based firm plans to leverage to get its first set of customers and drivers.

The UK is a big market for ride-hailing companies. According to a 2017 Goldman Sachs report, the taxi and limousine market in the UK is valued at $11.52 billion. Uber, despite hitting speed bumps in London, has managed to double its revenues in the country.

In past six months, Ola has been on aggressinve front to expand to other markets after raising recent $1.1 billion funding, which was the largest funding round since 2015 when the firm raised $500 million, from Tencent. In January, Ola had announced the launch of its operation in Down Under.

In Down Under, the ride-hailing platform faces the challenge from already existing players such as Uber, GoCatch and Taxify. At present, it is operational in three cities namely Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.

Today, it also announced to offer free rides in Melbourne city as a soft launch of its services with local driver-partners.

Ola has been charging very low commission (7%) in compare to its competitors. And it plans to do the same in the UK, said another source. This will help the ride-hailing firm to outscore its competitors like Uber, that charges 20-25% and attract more riders.

In Australia, Ola is doing 11,000 rides a day with an average ticket size of Rs 1,000. Meanwhile, according to the industry expert, UK is a quite mature market than Australia. The regulators play a major role in the country. Ola has to be wary of this.

Ola’s international ambition comes after the expiration of GOLD alliance (an alliance among Grab, Ola, Lyft and Didi).

The Bengaluru-based company is also looking at neighbouring markets in the sub-continent such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

However, in Sri Lanka, it tasted sour water when the local ride-hailing app accused the Indian ride-hailing firm of stealing confidential business and technical information, through indulging in a commercial espionage.

Meanwhile, Ola has not responded to Entrackr’s queries regarding its UK launch.

Founded in 2011, Ola claims 12.5 crore registered users in India and more than 10 lakh driver partners across more than 110 cities. The company serves as many as a billion rides in India annually through its platform.

In India, Ola is reportedly setting up a team to design Ola electric auto fleet (e-rickshaws). The Bengaluru-based firm has roped in Chinam Netaji Patro, who was formerly at the research and development (R&D) of electrical and electronics at Bajaj Auto.

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