Ola on Thursday announced an Ola car-sharing service called 'Ola Drive'. The new service has initially been rolled out for users in Bengaluru with Hyderabad, Mumbai, and New Delhi to follow shortly, the Bengaluru-headquartered company said in a statement. The company is aimed to host 20,000 cars by 2020. It is touted to already have the largest user base for a car-sharing service in India with over 200 million subscribers on its platform. Last month, the company announced the expansion of its bike service that was first launched back in 2016. Ola is competing strongly against Uber with its presence in over 250 cities across India as well as global markets, including Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.
The Ola Drive self drive car-sharing service will be available to consumers in Bengaluru through pick-up stations located across different residential and commercial hubs. There will be a choice to pick a car for as little as two hours.
Ola claimed that there would be cars across segments along with its connected car platform 'Ola Play', featuring a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment device. Each of the available cars is also claimed to include GPS, media playback support, and Bluetooth connectivity for the safety and convenience of consumers. Further, Ola will offer access to its platform's support and safety features such as a 24/7 helpline, emergency button, and real-time tracking. There will also be roadside assistance for the Ola Drive self drive car-sharing service, the company underlined.
While the initial aim is to offer a short-term, self-drive car-sharing experience to Ola customers, the company does have plans to bring long-term subscription and corporate leasing over time to Ola Drive. The company said that it had researched with individuals with different driving experience levels to understand their preferences. The study helped to procure user-preferred car models and provide quality repairs and maintenance structures, it affirmed.
"Our expertise in serving millions of customers through a large fleet of vehicles across 250 plus cities has been instrumental in making ride-hailing a norm in India," said Arun Srinivas, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Ola, in the statement. "Ola Drive has been built on the same DNA and will play a transformative role in defining India's car-sharing market in the next decade."
Consumers on Ola Drive will have the ability to design their own package and control parameters such as the number of kilometres and hours as well as fuel inclusion. All this is claimed to provide up to 30 percent savings over other car-sharing services.
Last month, Ola announced the expansion of the Ola Bike service to 150 cities across the country. The company is also currently exploring opportunities to bring electric vehicles on board. In June, a Reuters report, citing a person familiar with the development and records of government meetings, said that the government is pushing Ola and Uber to convert 40 percent of their fleet of cars to electric by April 2026.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article said Ola Drive would charge a Rs. 2,000 security deposit. The company has since revised its terms to remove that deposit, and the article has been updated to reflect this.