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SoftBank-backed Ola launches in the United Kingdom to challenge Uber

08 August 2018

Ola plans to expand its footprint across the country by end of 2018.

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.

After Ola's lead investor, Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, became the largest investor in Uber following a large secondary share purchase a year ago, speculations were rife that Uber could eventually merge its India operations with Ola. It has obtained licences to operate in South Wales and Greater Manchester and will launch operations in South Wales within the next month.

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

After years spent fighting Uber on its home ground in India, Ola is taking the fight into its rival's core markets.

Ola's United Kingdom launch statement stresses its willingness to engage with the authorities.

Like Uber, which operates across the U.K., Ola is backed by Japan's SoftBank Group. Ola was reportedly raising $2 billion from SoftBank and other investors last October, and the Japanese firm took a 20% stake in Uber at the beginning of this year.

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.

Ola is hoping that its promise of "higher earnings and daily payments" will lure drivers to its platform. That, of course, could change, and whether a driver earns more will also depend on how much Ola decides to charge passengers when it fully launches.

Starting Tuesday Ola is inviting Private Hire Vehicle and Metered Taxi drivers in Cardiff, Newport and Vale of Glamorgan to register with Ola.

This is the third overseas market that Ola has ventured into.

"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", said Aggarwal, who is Ola's co-founder and chief executive.

SoftBank-backed Ola launches in the United Kingdom to challenge Uber