Ola plans to expand its footprint across the country by end of 2018.
Indian ride-hailing firm Ola said on Tuesday it plans to launch services in Britain this year, months after expanding operations in Australia, intensifying its rivalry with USA peer Uber Technologies Inc.
Ola will open operations in Greater Manchester and south Wales, including capital Cardiff, within the next month. Ola has over 1 million drivers and 125 million customers across 110 cities and says 1 billion rides are made through the app annually.
This move is the first serious challenge in the United Kingdom to market-leading taxi-hailing app Uber, which was founded two years earlier than Ola, has three million drivers and operates in 600 cities in 65 countries.
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Aside from Uber, Ola will be up against the rival ride-hailing app Gett, and the London-focused firms MyTaxi, Kabbee and Addison Lee. Yesterday, the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA) and 11 other organisations in London will be filing a case against Uber.
Globally it has over 1 million driver partners who generate around a billion ride every year.
Features of Ola cabs in the UK: Ola says it will conduct Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) screening its drivers, offer 24/7 voice support, options to share ride details with emergency contacts and an emergency feature, possibly in the form of an SOS button. It is hugely popular in its home market of India, where Uber also operates.
The UK is already a crowded market, and one in which Uber itself has faced fierce opposition from established taxi providers, not to mention friction from licensing authorities unhappy at some of its business practices.
"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". The UK would represent only its second worldwide market outside of its home base in India.