The Indian ride-hailing firm, Ola, has said that it plans to launch in Britain this year. The firm has secured licenses to begin operating its services in South Wales and Greater Manchester from September, and then expand to the rest of the region by the end of the year. At launch, hailers will be able to call private vehicles as well as black cabs, with plans to offer other vehicles in the future.
Ola decided to start going after markets with high-bookings in order to bolster its Indian market where competition is intense due to some customers demanding low-cost rides. Prior to the British launch, Ola arrived in Australia and boasts 40,000 drivers in seven cities. Both in Australia and Britain, Ola’s biggest competitor is Uber. The latter firm is currently struggling to hold onto its operating license in London and could be an opportunity for Ola to jump in.
In March, Uber struck a deal with Grab in Southeast Asia in order to focus on its core markets, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said:
“The great news about our Grab deal is that it allows us to double down to invest aggressively in our core markets - and we consider India very much as core to Uber's success. We'd, of course, look at any deals that can add value to our partners and shareholders, but we believe in controlling our own destiny in India.”
Ola and Uber sparked rumours of a merger in March after both of them received funding from the Japanese investment firm, SoftBank. While those rumours only concerned the Indian market, it could mean the two will look to work together in other countries, such as Britain, too.