Following in rival Ola's footsteps, Uber car-for-hire and ride-sharing service has launched UberAuto service in New Delhi. The firm specifies that for now the auto rickshaw service will be available only in Delhi and not Haryana or Uttar Pradesh, which means no service in Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Noida.
As for pricing, users of UberAuto will pay Delhi government approved metered fare. UberAuto is being launched as a cash-only service 'for now' which means users will not be required to maintain a minimum balance in their linked Paytm wallet to make a booking; however, a valid Uber account will be required.
Ola (formerly Ola Cabs) launched its first Ola Auto service in Nagpur last year, and rolled it out to Bangalore by November. The company, which is backed by SoftBank and recently received roughly Rs. 1,954 crores investment, started its auto rickshaw service in Delhi in late December. Notably, Ola's auto rickshaw service covers the NCR region, a significantly wider scope than the UberAuto service. Ola also charges a convenience fee of Rs. 10 per ride, and allows customers to make cashless payments using the Ola Money wallet.
While Uber says fare adjustments are not possible because rides are paid for in cash, the company is providing a promo code that will see users get their first auto ride for free (up to Rs. 300, and until April 30).
Detailing its motivation behind the launch of the auto service in New Delhi, Uber said, "Autos are an iconic and ubiquitous part of the Delhi landscape and we are excited to have them as another option on the Uber platform... We recognise the history and value of autos to the transportation landscape. For us, UberAuto is another way of using technology to offer more choice, making life simpler and keep Delhi moving."
Speaking to Reuters, Gagan Bhatia, general manager for Uber in New Delhi, said, "There were a lot of people who were not able to use an Uber because cash payment was not allowed. There is huge potential in this segment."
The launch comes at a time when Uber is battling regulatory uncertainty over how it will continue to operate in New Delhi.
Written with agency inputs