Uber is continuing with aggressive expansion plans for its second largest market. As a part of that, the world’s most valued venture-backed company has today announced the launch of its carpooling service UberPOOL, which will be debuting in Bangalore next week.
Interestingly, India’s importance for Uber as its biggest market outside the U.S. can be gauged from the fact that Bangalore will only be the sixth city globally, to get UberPOOL services. San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Austin and Paris have already been using UberPOOL for quite some time now.
Bhavik Rathod, GM Bangalore, Uber said in a statement mailed to us,
India is a top global priority for Uber along with China and UberPOOL. Today, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be bringing Uber’s groundbreaking product UberPOOL to India very soon.
And as has been the case with a lot of Uber’s india announcements, the company is aligning the launch of UberPOOL in Bangalore with yet another Government-backed scheme. This time, Uber says that it is following the recent carpooling initiative by the Bangalore Traffic Police to increase the utilization of empty cars on the road and make it less suffocating for Bangaloreans to commute.
Using UberPOOL, commuters can share a ride and split the cost with another person who requests a ride along a similar route. Riders can save up to 50% while adding only a few minutes of time per trip — largely utilised for pick up of other passengers.
Initially however, UberPOOL will be available in Bangalore in a pilot phase only, with gradual roll-out expected in coming months. The company will gather user data and feedback related to the service so that it can scale up the model and successfully launch the service in other cities of India. Uber says that it will launch the service soon in beta in select cities in India, starting with Bangalore, to gain insights from commuter adoption and usage.
The service, though in direct competition with similar services like BlaBlaCar and others, is already quite popular in San Francisco. Uber says, that using this service, riders have saved “millions of dollars and nearly 2,00,000 gallons of gas”.
Uber is currently available in 22 Indian cities, which is the largest number of cities it is operating in outside the United States. With base of over 1,65,000 driver entrepreneurs and 40 percent month on month growth, the company claims to have gained a market share of more than 40% in India. Ola however, which is currently India’s largest such service, claims a contradicting 80% market share.