Ola goes global with Australia launch, battle with Uber set to intensify

In a move that will further intensify its battle with US-based rival Uber, ride-hailing Ola today announced that it is set to launch its operation in Australia. The Bengaluru-based company has invited private hire car owners in three Australian cities to begin the process.

In India, Ola’s rivalry with Uber entered a whole new dimension last month when it announced that it will acquire food-tech company Foodpanda’s India business in exchange for Ola stock. Cab aggregator Uber runs its on-demand food delivery app UberEATs in select Indian cities.

Ola in a press statement said: “Starting today Ola is inviting private hire vehicle owners in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth to learn more about driving and registering with Ola by visiting drive.olacabs.com.” Ola plans to launch its services in Australia in early 2018.

Ola’s primary competitor in the Australian market will be US-based Uber. The companies are already locked in an intense battle for leadership in the Indian market. Uber launched its operations in Australia in 2012 and currently operates in 19 Australian cities including the major cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra.

Speaking on the plan, Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said: “We are very excited about launching Ola in Australia and see immense potential for the ride-sharing ecosystem which embraces new technology and innovation.” He further said that the company aims to “create a high-quality and affordable travel experience for citizens” with a “strong focus on driver-partners and the community at large”.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Ola was planning to set up operations in Australia and New Zealand. The company also set up teams in Dhaka and Colombo for its overseas expansion, the report said. Uber is already present in Dhaka and Colombo.

Ola and Uber are locked in an intense battle for leadership in the Indian market. Both companies have pumped in millions of dollars towards rider discounts and driver incentives. Japanese internet giant SoftBank is an investor in two of India’s largest on-demand cab service – Uber and Ola.

The acquisition of Foodpanda is a diversification for Ola, a company that is building big data capabilities. Going ahead, there will be cross-selling opportunities. A customer who is dropped home late, may need a midnight snack, or someone who reaches office at noon, would require a quick lunch. Ola had said it would invest $200 million into Foodpanda’s India business. In the bargain, the food delivery business in the country is likely to get a big boost, much to the delight of couch potato foodies.

Founded in 2011, Ola has over 125 million users and more than one million driver-partners across 110 cities on its platform in India. On an aggregate basis, the SoftBank-backed company serves as many as a billion rides annually, through its platform.