Ola drives into three more cities in Britain

Ola drives into three more cities in Britain
While Ola-branded e-rickshaws were used as part of a promotional campaign, its UK services are limited to cab-hailing.
29 Mar, 2019

Ola has launched its cab-hailing services in three more cities in the United Kingdom as the homegrown unicorn presses on with its global expansion plans.

“We are delighted to launch our services in Birmingham, Liverpool and Reading, thus solidifying Ola’s presence across seven large metropolitans in the UK,” said Ben Legg, managing director of Ola UK.

The Bengaluru-headquartered company said it had received both taxi and private hire licenses from local councils before launching operations. Ola offered free rides to customers in Liverpool as a part of a promotional campaign, it added.

Ola further said that it has plans to expand its operations across North England and the Midlands in the coming months.

The company claimed that it charges 10% commission to black cabs and 15% to private hire vehicles (PHVs), compared with 25% charged by competitors. Black cabs are the traditional metered taxis in the British market.

Ola had announced its foray into the UK last August. Britain became the Bhavish Aggarwal-led company’s second overseas market after Australia, where it operates in seven cities. Ola subsequently launched services in New Zealand as well.

US-headquartered Uber is Ola’s main rival both in India and abroad and the two companies have been burning cash to outgun each other.

Ola ran into rough weather on its home turf recently when the Karnataka government suspended it its licence for operating bike-taxi services illegally. The ban was lifted earlier this week after Ola agreed to pay a fine.

Ola has been actively raising capital lately amid efforts to diversify its investor base and boost its war chest.

Earlier this month, Ola raised $300 million (Rs 2,050 crore) from South Korean automakers Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp.

In February, Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal invested Rs 650 crore ($92 million) -- the largest investment made by an individual in Ola till date.

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank holds the largest stake -- 22-26% -- in the company. SoftBank is also a stakeholder in Uber.

For the financial year through 31 March 2018, Ola’s parent ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd reported a 57% increase in operating revenue and halved its losses even as gross expenses remained almost stagnant.