Ola eyes entry into the UK ride-hailing market


Ola on Tuesday announced that it is looking to enter the UK market. Ola has currently obtained licences to operate in South Wales and Greater Manchester and will launch operations in South Wales in the coming month.  

The team has started inviting Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) and Metered Taxi drivers in Cardiff, Newport and Vale of Glamorgan to understand about registering and driving with Ola. 

Ola has also offered them benefits of a low introductory commission rate, at 10 percent for PHV’s and five percent for metered taxis.

Commenting on the launch in the UK, Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder and CEO, Ola said in a press statement that it was one of the world’s most evolved transportation markets, Bhavish said:

“The UK is a fantastic place to do business and we look forward to providing a responsible, compelling, new service that can help the country meet its ever demanding mobility needs. We look forward to our continued engagement with policymakers and regulators as we expand across the country and build a company embedded in the UK.”

The company is working with local authorities across the UK to expand nationwide by the end of 2018. Ola rides in the UK will have DBS screened drivers and processes such as 24/7 voice support, options to share ride details with emergency contacts and in-app emergency features. 

This is Ola’s second entry into the international market. The platform had launched in Australia in February this year, and is now present in seven major cities. It claims to have over 40,000 drivers across Australia. Ola now conducts 1 billion rides globally, every year, with more than 1 million driver partners and 125 million customers in over 110 cities.

Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder and CEO, Ola

It is interesting that Ola has entered the UK, which is historically known to be a tough market. The Black Cab Associations and Unions, are known to have a stronghold over the region, especially London and have caused several troubles for Ola’s rival Uber. 

For Uber, UK is its largest market. London, in fact, was the 11th city Uber launched in. In London alone, Uber has over 40,000 driver partners, and is one of the top 10 cities for the San-Francisco based giant. In 2015, Uber had doubled its profits in the market. 

However, UK is a lucrative market for any transport business. Data published by Goldman Sachs and Haver suggests that Londoners spend more money as a proportion of GDP on transport as compared with San Francisco, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and even New York. 

It is believed that Ola wanted to start off on its international expansion with an UK launch, but regulatory challenges made the company defer its plans.

It will be interesting to see how both the ride-hailing platforms battle it out in the UK, after its success in India and Australia.