Startup News & Analysis

Indian ride-sharing giant Ola reaches 1.5 million rides as Australian expansion continues

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Having hit a milestone of 1.5 million rides on Australian soil, ride-sharing giant Ola has now launched in Adelaide, and has its sights set on Darwin and Hobart too.

The Indian answer to Uber has racked up the 1.5 million rides since it launched in Perth in February, and now has 40,000 Australian driver partners on its books.

Three weeks after it launched in Perth, Ola expanded to Sydney, before rolling out in Melbourne in April, and in Canberra, Gold Coast and Brisbane in May.

Ola has confirmed it is now eyeing up Darwin and Hobart as future launch cities, however it is not clear when these launches will take place.

Speaking to StartupSmart, Ola Australia country manager Simon Smith says the expansion into smaller capital cities fits with the company’s ethos.

“Our mission is to build mobility for a billion people, and we apply that same philosophy of inclusion to Australia,” he says.

“As in Adelaide, both driver-partners and passengers in Hobart and Darwin are keen to see a fair alternative service, and … we are keen to oblige!”

In the Australian market, Ola is competing with global ride-sharing veteran Uber and Estonian company Taxify, which entered Australia last year, as well as Aussie alternatives GoCatch and DiDi Express, a Chinese newcomer that launched in Melbourne just last month.

However, in the more remote markets of Hobart and Darwin, competition is a little less fierce.

Earlier this month, the Northern Territory government announced Uber will launch in Darwin in August, joining little-known Australia-owned ride-sharing company Hi Oscar, which also runs in Perth, southwest South Australia, Geelong and Alice Springs.

In Hobart, ride-sharing options are limited to Uber and female-only service Shebah.

Taxify is currently only operational in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

However, while it’s expanding its reach in Australia, Ola also claims to differentiate itself by charging lower commission rates for drivers, with a starting rate of 7.5%. It also pays drivers daily.

Smith says drivers in South Australia had been campaigning for Ola to arrive in Adelaide “because they had heard about the better deal we offer them”, and, in fact, the decision to venture into Australia was in part influenced by the commissions offered by competitors.

“We chose Australia because the incumbent here charged very high commissions to drivers and we feel that there is an opportunity for us to bring higher earnings to drivers and also give riders a better offer,” he says.

“Australians appreciate fairness,” says Smith, who says the company’s traction in Australia “has demonstrated a real desire from driver-partners for a credible and fair alternative and that in turn is resonating with our passengers”.

Founded in India in 2011, Ola now has more than 1 million driver partners across 110 cities, globally.

According to Crunchbase, the startup has raised $US3 billion ($4.05 billion) to date, including $US1.1 billion ($1.49 billion) from investors including Tencent and Softbank in October last year.

At the time, the startup revealed it was also in talks to raise another $US1 billion ($1.35 billion) from other investors, which would bring its value to around $US7 million ($9.46 billion).

NOW READ: Corporate ridesharing startup Liftango raises $675,000 in seed round, eyes autonomous vehicle offering

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is a reporter at StartupSmart.

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