Moving ahead with its $200 Million acquisition of smaller rival TaxiForSure, Ola has started integrating hatchbacks under tFS banner into its own app. However, unlike Ola’s usual hatch booking, the TaxiForSure Hatchback (TFS Hatchback) will appear as a separate category in the Ola app.
The integration however is more on the surface, with deep tech integration still pending. While customers can book TFS Hatchback in the same way they book an Ola Mini, Sedan, Prime or Auto, they’ll still have to pay the driver in cash as billing system would be handled by TaxiForSure.
The integration is supposed to roll out gradually beginning from Mumbai and Delhi and will arrive for users in “other cities in a phased manner over the next few weeks.
Customers can book a TaxiForSure (TFS) hatchback cab on Ola’s app by clicking on the TFS icon that will appear as a new category. However, owing to another integration loop-hole, customers can book a TaxiForSure cab only through the ‘Ride Now’ option, and won’t be able to schedule rides for a later time as is the case with usual Ola Cabs.
Other features like tracking, driver details etc will be available via both Ola Cabs app and TFS app. The TaxiForSure’s ‘Inform A Friend’ feature, similar to Uber’s “Share Journey” feature, will also only be available to TFS registered users, and not to Ola users.
Arvind Singhal, CEO at TaxiFor Sure, says that they are currently eyeing to serve “20 million customers by year end”, with growth largely driven via this integration. He further adds,
We are confident that with this integration, customers on the Ola app will also have the opportunity to experience TaxiForSure rides at the lowest fares in their city.
Ola, which is backed up by the likes of giants such as Softbank, DST Global has raised about $600 Million till date, with the most recent being a $400 million E-Series funding round in April. Ola plans to extend its operations to 200 cities by the end of this year. It already has over 100,000 vehicles across some 67 cities in the country and is currently the market leader for app-based cab hailing services in India.
Its closest competitor Uber, is still far behind in terms of both, number of transactions and operational cities. Moreover, Uber’s own troubles have led to some serious brand damage, even though it assured user safety by introducing several India-specific measures. Just for the sake of comaprison, Uber operates in 11 Indian cities so far ( and we’re very much unsure of New Delhi), while Ola has presence in over 65 Indian cities.
Ola further consolidated its position as the leader this year in March when it acquired Taxi For Sure in the cash and equity deal worth $200 million to penetrate the low segment market, a strength of TaxiForSure. TFS has about 15000 vehihcles in 47 cities and is known for its economic deals offering rides in vehicles like Tata Nano, for as low as 49 INR.
Even though Ola and TFS together lead the Indian market, Uber is rapidly scaling its operations in India which happens to be its second largest market after US (soon to be overtaken by China though) and is therefore investing heavily to grab a chunk of the market as more Indians come online and identify the need to hail taxis from their phone.
As a confidence-building measure, Uber recently hired IIT and Stanford Graduate Amit Jain as its first “president” to run its business in India, the first for Uber as it usually relies on smaller teams to run its business city-wise, instead of appointing a company head to lead business in the country.