The $5 billion Indian ridesharing app Ola is continuing its rapid rollout across Australia launching in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Canberra today.
The Uber rival has now landed in six markets in just 14 weeks, having first started operating in Perth in February, followed by Sydney and Melbourne.
The business is continuing its launch strategy of free rides in new markets, as well as discounted commission rates for drivers, claiming it now has 30,000 drivers Australia-wide.
But Ola continues to tighten its launch offer, offering just one free ride worth up to $20 in the first week in the Brisbane and Gold Coast markets (in Sydney it was three rides, in Melbourne, two), while Canberrans are only being offered a 50% discount on rides, worth up to $10, in the week following customer sign-up.
Unlike Uber, Ola does not have surge pricing, but the business appears to still be struggling in the Sydney and is still offering a 20% discount on rides 10 weeks after entering the crowded ride-sharing market, which is already includes Estonian-based Taxify and Australian startup GoCatch.
Ola says it has plans to launch in Adelaide, Darwin and Hobart “in the near future”.
The Indian startup, founded in 2011, is backed by Chinese internet giant Tencent, as well as Japanese multinational Softbank, which tipped in $US1.1 billion in funding late last year. The company has yet to make a profit, predicting it will finally be in the black by 2018-19.
Softbank is reportedly looking to gain a controlling stake in Ola, which is being resisted by the company’s founders, and the Japanese bank also now Uber’s largest shareholder, is believed to be mediating merger talks between the two rivals in India.
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