Aiming to complete all use cases for transportation, cab-hailing company Ola has introduced two categories this month- outstation and rental.
The outstation cab service would allow a customer to book a cab for intercity travel, two hours in advance on the Ola app. Rental, on the other hand, enables customers to rent a car on an hourly package basis instead of point-to-point pickup and drop, which is Ola’s core business.
With this India’s largest cab-hailing service now has a bus service called Ola Shuttle, an auto service, carpooling, a corporate offering and five categories of on-demand cab service that range from low-cost Micro to luxury-like BMWs.
This strategic change to deviate from focusing on a horizontal expansion model, experts say, would help Ola to reach its objective of reducing car ownership, given that it can sustain supply for these services at scale. With Ola’s dedicated customer base these services would be easy to sell. Ola is also expected by many to foray into the self-drive or on-demand drivers space in the future.
Ola’s understanding of local dynamics is their strength in their rivalry with Uber. Uber has been a threat to Ola’s lead in the country by closing in on the company’s numbers last year and splurging on driver incentives and customer discounts.
Since then, Ola has launched new categories to widen its scope of offerings and is also focused on improving customer experience, such as by providing free WiFi to customers of its premium Prime service. It is also working closely with China’s Didi Chuxing, which picked up a stake in Ola last year, on how to beat Uber.
Uber is focused on expanding its low-cost category, UberGo, and Share in the 26 cities it is present in. Ola is operational in more than 100 cities.
While Ola has market knowledge, Uber has enormous funding. It has $3.5 billion (about Rs 23,000 crore) from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, and has announced continuing investment in India for improvement.
Uber is also looking forward to increasing its pool of drivers, improve technology and add categories such as bike taxis.