A fleet of Ola cabs stand on the roadside for an arragned pciture in Mumbai. (Source: Ola)

India’s Ola Takes Its Fight With Uber To U.K.

After Australia, India’s biggest ride-hailing startup Ola is headed to the U.K.

In its second big overseas push, Ola received licences to operate in South Wales and Greater Manchester, it said in a statement on Tuesday. While the operations in South Wales will be launched within the next month, it plans nationwide expansion by the end of 2018. Ola will be competing with its biggest rival Uber that has had a troubled run in some of the British cities after its licences were revoked. Brighton in March said it will not renew Uber’s licence as the taxi firm is not, ‘fit’ and proper to use. In June, it finally won a 15-month probationary licence to operate in the British capital, London which was turned down in September last year.

The two companies are already head-to-head in India and Australia.

Bengaluru based ride-hailing firm said it will offer the passenger the option of private hire cars and black cabs on one platform. It aims to add other transportation option on the platform.

Ola is excited to announce its plans for the U.K., one of the world’s most evolved transportation markets, Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and chief executive officer at Ola, said. “We look forward to our continued engagement with policymakers and regulators as we expand across the country and build a company embedded in the U.K.”

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Ola said it's inviting private hire vehicle and metered taxi drivers in Cardiff, Newport, and Vale of Glamorgan and is also offering low introductory commission rate of 10 percent.

Both Ola and Uber are backed by Softbank. The overlap between Ola’s overseas expansion with that of Uber has led to questions of consolidation among ride-hailing platforms or market exits. It is also a way of making SoftBank understand that Ola as an entity is superior to Uber not only in India but in other markets as well and in case of any consolidation Ola should be the one to take control, said Satish Meena, a New Delhi-based analyst at Forrester Inc.

The aggressive expansion might take a hit on Ola’s balance sheet. “It is going to be expensive, as there will be more discounting to attract customers and drivers both on the newer market,” Meena said.

Founded in 2011, Ola is present across more than 110 Indian cities, and said it connects over 1 million drivers across cabs, auto-rickshaws, and taxis.

“We look forward to providing a responsible, compelling, new service that can help the country (U.K.) meet its ever demanding mobility needs,” Aggarwal said.

Also read: Battle With Uber Has Wiped Out A Fourth Of Ola’s $3 Billion Fundraise