Ola to launch in Britain as Uber rivalry heats up

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The firm will offer private vehicles for hire as well as Britain's famous black cabs on its platform, and will add more transportation options going forward.

While in India, Ola operates across over 100 cities, in Australia is has set up operations in seven cities.

Ola plans to expand its services across Britain, where Uber already has a presence, by the end of the year, the company added.

Six months after foraying into Australia, SoftBank-backed domestic ride hailing firm Ola on Tuesday said it will launch its operations in the United Kingdom in September.

The company, co-founded by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati in 2011, has obtained licenses to operate in South Wales and Greater Manchester. Ola now conducts 1 billion rides each year globally, with more than 1 million driver partners and 125 million customers in over 110 cities.

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Ola and Uber, which both count Japan's SoftBank Group as an investor, have been competing in India's $12 billion taxi market and in recent months have taken their rivalry overseas. The company will take 10% of any private hire fare, and 5% of a black taxi fare - which is now a lower commission rate than Uber. Yesterday, the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA) and 11 other organisations in London will be filing a case against Uber.

Services such as Uber - often called "ride-hailing" or "ride-sharing" apps - at their simplest were created to link drivers, via a mobile phone app, with people who they were prepared to give a lift to in return for a bit of petrol money. For example, all Ola drivers will have to pass checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service, and its app will hold a number of features for customer safety like emergency contact details.

After years spent fighting Uber on its home ground in India, Ola is taking the fight into its rival's core markets.

Uber has also won considerable public backing: more than 8,00,000 had signed a petition urging TFL to change their decision.

He said: "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".

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