Ride-hailing unicorn Ola launches operations in London with over 25k drivers

The ride-hailing unicorn said it is fully operational in London across three categories. Ola will focus on drivers, safety, and a collaborative approach with local authorities and regulators.

Indian ride-hailing unicorn Ola launched its services in the UK capital of London on Monday, with over 25,000 drivers registered on its platform.

The Bengaluru-headquartered company said it is fully operational in London across three categories of Comfort, Comfort XL and Exec ride classes, and stated that its focus would now be on drivers, safety, and a collaborative approach with local authorities and regulators.

"We are thrilled to now be live in London. This is a major milestone for our business and represents the next step in our ambitions to connect people in cities throughout the country," said Simon Smith, Head of Ola International.

"We are proud of the progress Ola has made in the UK and we look forward to building on our success by offering a differentiated service to Londoners, focused on quality, safety, and reliability," he said.

The company, which entered the UK market in 2018 starting with Wales and then Southwest England, said its London drivers joining the platform will benefit from six weeks of zero commission and market-leading commission rates thereafter, so they can keep more of their earnings.

The company stated, "Ola's commission commitment ensures drivers always receive the best commission rate in each market. Ola will continue its collaborative approach with Transport for London and local authorities, as well as its clear focus on safety, drawing on industry-leading and global best practices."

Ola also unveiled three partnerships aimed at driver standards across the market as it teamed up with DriveTech (Part of the AA), Mercer, and Pearson for driver customer service and communication.

Ola's partnership with DriveTech will involve their driving risk assessment to improve the level of driving skills and knowledge of all drivers on Ola in London.

Each driver has completed a risk assessment and is given complimentary e-learning modules to further accelerate their professional development. On completing these modules, they will receive a DriveTech permit to drive, attesting to their skills.

"In a number of pioneering moves for the UK, Ola is launching its flagship global safety feature, Guardian, which uses AI and machine learning to automatically detect irregular vehicle activity, a 'Start Code' feature to ensure customers and drivers are correctly matched, 24/7 voice support for riders and drivers, and a cap of six penalty points for drivers on its platform, the company stated.

To celebrate its London launch, Ola said its first few passengers will benefit from up to 25 pounds worth of ride vouchers for signing up in the first week after launch.