One of the world’s biggest ride-sharing services, the $9 billion Indian-based Ola, has begun operating in Australia, launching first in Perth with plans to head east and challenge US giant Uber within weeks.
Ola kicked off in Perth on Valentine’s Day and has an aggressive incentive strategy to entire both users and drivers to the service, offering people up to 10 free rides worth up to $30 each up until the end of February when they sign up.
And just as Uber grabbed market share by undercutting taxi prices, Ola is offering fares cheaper than Uber in Perth, as well as offering drivers honeymoon deals with a revenue cut as low as 7.5% compared to Uber’s 25%, although like the US company, Ola has come under fire from drivers for arbitrarily changing its commission rates for drivers.
The company says it’s had more than 4,000 registrations from drivers and plans to move into the Sydney and Melbourne markets, and while Ola won’t say when, it could be as soon as next month. New Zealand is also on the drawing board.
“In the coming weeks, Ola plans to roll out a number of new initiatives for driver partners including new earnings programs, 24/7 support, community town-halls, fuel offers and other vehicle services,” the company said in a statement.
Unlike Uber, which pioneered ride-sharing by operating illegally in Australia until state governments caved in and legalised the service, Ola does not have to face the same legislative hurdles and is able to move quickly into markets where customers are already used to app-based ride-sharing services.
The company, founded in 2011, claims to have more than one million driver-partner in India, and now Australia. It has financial backing from Chinese internet giant Tencent, as well as Japanese multinational Softbank.