The race to cover Indian cities with on-demand cab services has entered a new stretch, with the entry of Olacabs into Ahmedabad just 12 days after its competitor TaxiForSure drove into the capital of Gujarat and home of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is the 10th Indian city in which Ola has launched operations since starting out three years ago in Mumbai, while its six-month-younger Bangalore-based competitor is now in five cities.
Ola has raised US$65 million in three rounds of funding, the latest being in June this year, so it has the fuel to speed ahead with its expansion. “We currently have over 12,000 cabs on our platform across these 10 cities and plan to double our capacity in the next one year,” says Anand Subramanian, director of marketing communications, Olacabs. TaxiForSure has a more modest US$14 million in its kitty, but is reported to be in talks to raise funding, and has a similar target of around 25,000 cabs in a year from now.
Gujarat is a leading business hub of the country, and Narendra Modi’s election this year was driven by the so-called Gujarat model of growth. Ahmedabad is often cited for its urban planning, but personal transportation services have been lagging behind other Indian cities. Now that gap will close rapidly. Amdavadis, as the denizens of Ahmedabad are called, enjoy the benefits of competition between taxi aggregators.
Cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore have already seen intense competition, especially since the entry of global operator Uber.
In fact, the entry of Uber has shaken up Indian cab operators like Meru Cab, Mega Cab, and EasyCabs. Just last week, a letter from the Association of Radio Taxis to the Reserve Bank of India complained of illegal credit card transactions on the Uber app.
The GPS-based hassle-free ordering of Uber also stole the thunder from Ola, which had introduced mobile app-based ordering of taxis in India. The launch of UberX, the smaller car variant of the UberBLACK, has also brought it on par in terms of price.
Now the battle to sign on taxis and drivers is in full swing on these services, none of which keep their own fleets. Hence the race to Ahmedabad, in which TaxiForSure had its nose ahead of Ola. But then again, this race has just begun.