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

After U.K. And Australia, Ola Set To Launch In New Zealand

New Zealand will be the newest battleground for the SoftBank Group Corp.-backed cab aggregators.

After slugging it out in India for market share with Uber Technologies Inc., followed by ratcheting up their rivalry in the U.K. and Australia, India’s largest ride-hailing platform Ola will test the waters in New Zealand—where Uber already operates.

The Bengaluru-headquartered firm said in a statement that it’s starting operations in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. To build its presence, it has roped in Brian Dewil, co-founder and director of the robotics startup Horizon Robotics, as country manager.

“We see a real opportunity in New Zealand to provide a fair alternative in the rideshare space for both customers and drivers,” Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and chief executive officer of Ola, said in a statement. The ride-hailing firm, operated by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd., said it’s inviting private vehicle owners to register on its platform, offering an introductory commission of 9 percent.

New Zealand’s ride hailing market came under the spotlight early this month when Uber said it would block customers with low passenger ratings from its service. Dewil, who will lead Ola’s challenge, however, said, “Kiwis have had too little choice when it comes to rideshare.”

Ola already operates in seven major Australian cities, where it has close to 50,000 registered drivers. Founded in 2011, it caters to about 125 million users. In India, it has a presence in about 110 cities.

The overlap between Ola’s overseas expansion with that of Uber has led to questions of consolidation among ride-hailing platforms or market exits. Their battle in India has already cost Ola a fourth of its funds raised from investors since inception.

SoftBank Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son is known to invest in rivals. In 2017, he backed Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing giant, before he started talks for investments in Uber. The Indian e-commerce firms Flipkart—now acquired by Walmart Inc.—and Snapdeal may have once been arch rivals, but Son invested in Flipkart long after he had acquired a stake in Snapdeal.

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