By Elton Gomes
Indian ride-hailing app Ola said it will be expanding operations by launching services in New Zealand. Ola has appointed Brian Dewil as country manager to oversee New Zealand operations.
“We see a real opportunity in New Zealand to provide a fair alternative in the rideshare space for both customers and drivers,” Dewil said in an official statement on Tuesday. According to media reports, Ola will be launching services in Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington in the coming weeks and has already begun searching for drivers.
Ola in New Zealand
Ola is making its foray into New Zealand at a time when Uber and Zoomy seem to dominate the ride-sharing space. Ola plans to offer drivers an introductory per-ride commission of 9%, and it hopes that such a low figure will help increase its presence in New Zealand. Zoomy, on the other hand, charges 15% whereas Uber charges 20-25% per ride.
New Zealand’s ride hailing market recently made news after Uber said that it would block customers with low passenger ratings. To this, Dewil said, “Kiwis have had too little choice when it comes to rideshare,” Bloomberg Quint reported.
Ola launches services in UK, Australia
Ola took its first step overseas after it officially launched services in Sydney, Australia, in March 2018. Ola said it had already signed up more than 7,000 registered drivers, and that passengers could avail free rides for a short period of time. The company also planned to introduce other “new initiatives” in an attempt to keep it service competitive.
After Australia, Ola began operations in the United Kingdom in August, with services across South Wales, including Cardiff, Newport, and Vale of Glamorgan. Ola became the only ride-hailing app in South Wales wherein customers had the option to hire private vehicles and taxis on one platform.
Ola raises $50 million from Chinese investors
In an attempt to expand its presence in India, Ola managed to raise $50 million from Hong Kong-based Sailing Capital and the China-Eurasian Economic Cooperation Fund (CEECF). The new funds were raised as part of Ola’s move to raise fresh funds amounting to at least $1 billion.
The raising of funds comes at a time when Ola is planning to aggressively expand within and outside India while planning to make its mark in the food-tech business and compete with Swiggy and Zomato. Ola will also look to strengthen its position in its competition with Uber.
Ola vs Uber
Before Uber marked its entry into India, Ola had already become a well-funded tech startup in the country. In 2015, Ola raised more than $900 million and was valued at over $5 billion.
Ola seems to be in the driver’s seat in its competition with Uber. After Uber sold its Southeast Asia business to Grab, the company’s footprint has been diminishing. To add to Uber’s woes, numerous complaints against their drivers have substantially affected the company’s reputation. However, the Dara Khosrowshahi-led company recently reiterated its focus on India, calling it a “key market” and making “critical investments.”
Talks of an Ola-Uber merger in India have been going on since a year, and Japan’s SoftBank, that owns shares in Ola and Uber, called for a merger in March. It seems that increasing losses for Ola could be sufficient cause for a merger between the two ride-hailing apps in India.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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