India ride-sharing firm Ola to enter Australia

Image source, Ola
Image caption,
Ola is one of the world's biggest ride-sharing firms

India's ride-sharing company Ola is entering the Australian market in what will be the firm's first international venture.

It plans to first launch in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and says it will soon start recruiting drivers.

The Australian taxi-hailing app industry is dominated by Uber - Ola's biggest rival in India.

Bangalore-based Ola was set up in 2011 and has grown rapidly as more people bought smartphones.

It now claims to have about 125 million users in India, with around one million drivers across more than 110 cities.


Ola, which still needs regulatory approval to launch in Australia, said it would offer a "high-quality and affordable travel experience".

"We are very excited about launching Ola in Australia and see immense potential for the ride-sharing ecosystem which embraces new technology and innovation," said Ola's chief executive and co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal.

Both Uber and Ola have received heavy investment from Japan's Softbank. A deal last week saw Softbank lead a consortium that bought a chunk of the US company.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Uber was first made legal in Australia in 2015

Ola vs Uber - who's the biggest player in India?

Suranjana Tewari, BBC News Mumbai

Home-grown Ola has been in a fierce battle with Uber since the San Francisco-based firm opened up shop in India in 2013.

The two firms now share 90% of the marketplace but there are different opinions on which company is bigger.

According to one report from research firm KalaGato, Uber's market share touched 50% in mid-2017, while Ola had 44.2%.

But Uber is in just 29 Indian cities compared with Ola's presence in more than 110 cities across the country.

Ola's technological developments, that offer passengers wifi, films and music play well with the diverse Indian market.

And the move by an indigenous start-up to venture out of its home market in such a competitive industry is likely to be seen as a great achievement.

Ola will also compete in Australia with Taxify, the European firm which set up business in Sydney late last year, and expanded to Melbourne earlier this month.

The US firm, which was made legal in Australia in 2015, gave rides to 3.7 million Australians in the three months to December - almost four times the number of passengers it carried in the same period two years earlier.