Uber, Ola Bring India Battle to Motorbikes With New Ride Sharing

  • Uber's Bengaluru service to offer fares starting at 15 rupees
  • Announcement comes a week after starting service in Thailand

Uber Technologies Inc. and Ola announced competing motorcycle and scooter services for India just hours apart Thursday, underscoring the intensifying effort to capture customers in the world’s second-most populous nation.

UberMOTO’s pilot on-demand service will debut in the technology hub of Bengaluru offering rides starting from 15 rupees (22 U.S. cents), it said in a statement. The announcement comes a week after a similar service debuted n Bangkok.

The world’s most valuable startup is going head-to-head with Ola on its home turf. India’s largest ride-hailing service announced just after Uber it was launching its own bike taxi pilot in the same city, setting its fares below Uber’s.

It will charge riders 2 rupees per kilometer compared with Uber’s 3 rupees. Ola’s minimum fare of 30 rupees, however, is twice that of the U.S. company’s. The idea is for commuters to work off an existing app and to be able to wend their way through jam-packed streets.

“We expect significant demand in the pilot phase and we will continue to scale this service up in the coming weeks to cover more areas in the city and serve more users,” said Pranay Jivrajka, chief operating officer at Ola.

Motoring Away

Ola, backed by SoftBank Group Corp. and Tiger Global Management, has a presence in more than 100 Indian cities and is part of an alliance of Uber’s competitors including Didi Kuaidi in China, GrabTaxi Holdings Pte in Southeast Asia and Lyft Inc. in the US.

San Francisco-based Uber operates its ride-sharing service in 26 Indian cities, more than any other country outside its U.S. home, according to the statement. Commuters in Bengaluru can summon motorcycles through the existing Uber app and tap into a popular personal transport option in a city with meager public transit choices.

UberMOTO expands the ride service’s fleet beyond cars. Uber introduced three-wheeler autorickshaw rides in Delhi last year but the pilot lasted for just seven months.

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