India’s largest ride-hailing startup Ola has introduced a bicycle-sharing service.
Christened Ola Pedal, the service is currently being run as a pilot at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, where it allows faculty, students and others to rent bicycles from designated spots via the Ola app, the company said in a statement. Ola has already deployed close to 600 cycles on campus.
The startup plans to slowly expand the service to technology parks and universities. “Bicycles are a sustainable and efficient alternative for covering first and last mile mobility needs in our cities,” Ola said in a statement.
Ola is venturing into bicycle-sharing at a time when the country has just warmed up to the concept. Just last month, Ford-backed self-drive rental company Zoomcar forayed into the cycle rental business and launched an app called PEDL. Zoomcar has already delpoyed around 3,000 cycles around Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai. Earlier this month, Amit Gupta, Co-founder of InMobi, stepped down from the company and launched his own cycle-sharing company Yulu.
The model is already popular in Europe, China and the U.S. with the companies such as Singapore-based OBike, and China’s Ofo and Mobike, allow customers to find the nearest bike and leave it at a location of their convenience after use. Ofo and Mobike which have deployed around 13 million cycles worldwide have raised a total of $2.3 billion from investors such as Chinese internet giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.and Tencent Holdings Ltd., Bloomberg reported.
The Ola Pedal service is free for the first half hour for the time being, post which users are charged Rs 5 per hour. Payment will be made only through the app with no option of cash payment.
Besides its cab-hailing service offering on-demand short distance conveyance in hatchback, sedan and luxury cars, outstation trips and rental, Ola also has a bus service under Ola Shuttle, a two-wheeler service under Ola Bikes, and a three-wheeler taxi service under Ola Auto.
The homegrown startup recently scored $2 billion in new funding from a group of investors including SoftBank Group Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., according to a Bloomberg report.