San Francisco-based Uber has committed to invest US$1 billion in India over the next nine months.
Uber said that this will help the taxi-hailing app reach over one million trips per day in the next six to nine months. The company also expects to support over 200,000 jobs in India by 2016.
“We will be establishing a great support network and public-private partnerships,” Jain told ET.
The taxi-booking space in India is booming and Uber has been growing aggressively since its launch in 2013. It is now present in more than 18 cities and has introduced various features especially catering to the Indian market.
Though the company has faced regulatory and licensing hurdles and has seen troubles after the rape of a passenger by an Uber driver, it is getting its act together in the Indian market. It has also faced mounting pressures in countries such as China, Indonesia and South Korea.
Local innovation for India
India was the second country globally (after the US) where Uber introduced a bespoke vehicle financing programme for partner drivers, thus creating a breed of driver entrepreneurs. The company also launched a more affordable option of uberGO, a local innovation and a global-first for Uber that has now been taken overseas.
It has introduced Uber Intercity, a new product option specifically for the India market — only for inter-city travel on-demand between Pune and Mumbai. The company has also launched various in-app safety upgrades for the Indian market.
It has rolled out cash payment options for customers in six cities, including Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Kochi and Hyderabad. This makes India the only country other than Kenya where Uber is accepting payments in cash.
The company has committed INR 317 crore (US$50 million) over the next five years for a new centre in Hyderabad in South India, its largest office outside the US. In collaboration with the Telangana government, Uber plans to hire about 500 people for this facility, to train its drivers and customer support staff.
However, its rival Ola is also stepping up its game in India and is said to be closing yet another funding round from its investors including Japan’s SoftBank and New York-based Tiger Global. Despite regulatory hurdles, the taxi-booking space in India will continue to grow, filling the void created by unorganised players in the market.