Ola, India’s dominant ride-hailing startup, announced its plans to enter the UK, opening yet another overseas front in a fight with global leader Uber Technologies Inc.
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.
Ola will offer passengers the option of private hire vehicles and licensed taxis through its platform, where it intends to keep adding transportation options. Besides its home market, Bangalore-based Ola operated by ANI Technologies Pvt, is already battling Uber in Australia, a market it entered in February and where it operates in seven cities with 40,000 drivers.
Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and chief executive officer of Ola, said the company would engage with policymakers and regulators to “build a company embedded in the U.K.”
Uber saved its London business — at least temporarily — following a court appeal in June after offering a range of incentives including free insurance and limited operating hours for drivers, and a customer helpline and better handling of incidents during rides.
London has a strict attitude toward new ride-hailing entrants compared to regional cities. European ride-hailing company Taxify OU is in ongoing negotiations with the capital’s transport regulator after being suspended in September, a week after starting, following questions about how it obtained its license.
Ola said it would offer industry-leading commissions and daily payments to drivers, take note of passenger safety with screened drivers and a 24/7 voice support, options to share details with emergency contacts.