Uber's biggest rival in India expands internationally

Indian ride-sharing giant Ola is coming to Australia.

Image: Hemant Mishra/Mint via Getty Images

Uber is set to meet a familiar foe Down Under.

For the first time, ride-hailing giant Ola is setting up outside of India. The company said it plans to launch in Australia in early 2018, and is currently signing up drivers in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. 

The latest Uber challenger follows in the footsteps of Estonian ride-hailing company Taxify, which launched in Sydney last December, and recently began operations in Melbourne. 

On its website, Ola said it will initially charge a 7.5 percent commission from drivers. For the time being, it’s considerably lower than Taxify’s 15 percent, and Uber, which is around 25 percent. Ola is yet to reveal its entire fare structure in Australia.

“We are very excited about launching Ola in Australia and see immense potential for the ride-sharing ecosystem which embraces new technology and innovation,” Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. 

“With a strong focus on driver-partners and the community at large, we aim to create a high-quality and affordable travel experience for citizens and look forward to contributing to a healthy mobility ecosystem in Australia.” 

Since its inception in 2011, Ola now operates in more than 100 cities in India and claims to have 125 million users. Comparatively, Uber is available in roughly 30 Indian cities, only launching in the country in 2013.

Last October, Ola took in $1.1 billion (AU$1.35 billion) in investment from Japanese telecoms company SoftBank and Chinese internet giant Tencent. 

According to research firm Roy Morgan, 18.4 percent of Australians used Uber between July and September 2017. 

Now big multinationals like Taxify and Ola are poised to take a slice of the ride-hailing pie, where local rivals such as GoCatch have fallen short.

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