Ola Cabs
Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO and co-founder of Ola, an app-based cab service provider, poses in front of an Ola cabREUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/File Photo - RTSLY9Y

Ride-hailing services, Ola has today formally launched its self-drive car rental service, 'Ola Drive'. The company is moving into the self-driving rentals business due to flat growth in its core business. With the entry into the segment, Ola is eyeing to add 20,000 vehicles by the end of 2020. The new offering has been introduced in Bengaluru as a pilot project which will be further expanded in other cities including Hyderabad, Mumbai, and New Delhi in the coming years.

Financial daily, Mint reported that through its new offering, Ola Drive, Bhavish Aggarwal led company will allow customers to design own rental package, pre-set the number of kilometres and hours to fuel inclusion before booking a vehicle. Moreover, the service would also include designated pick-up and drop-off points located across different residential and commercial hubs. Ola Drive offers multiple options among sedans, hatchbacks, and SUVs which can be booked for a minimum of 2 hours along with a security deposit starting at Rs. 2000.

All the Ola Drive cars will be loaded with Ola prime services like Ola Play, enabled through a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment device, GPS, media playback, and Bluetooth connectivity. Ola will also provide support and safety features such as a 24/7 helpline, road-side assistance, and an emergency button. Arun Srinivas, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Ola said that the company is also planning to introduce a long term long-term car subscription option and corporate leasing service in the coming days. He also said that the presently Ola Drive has approximately 500 vehicles in Bengaluru, which is sourced directly from automobile manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The company, however, ruled out any tie-up with independent vehicle fleet operators and distributors.

Ola cabs will dispense cash
Ola cabs FleetOla/MediaKit

Ola's entry into the self-driving business with its deep pocket may disrupt the market which is largely dominated by three players including Zoomcar, Drivezy, and Revv. As per their claims, together these three companies have around 14,500 cars on road and with Ola's plan to unleash a fleet of around 20,000 vehicles on road by 2020, the existing players are expected to face stiff competition.

Ola is facing flat growth in its core business forcing the company to explore in other businesses. One of the venture capitalists into the mobility segment said, "Their (Ola's) core ride-hailing businesses maybe have hit a flat growth, hence why the company is exploring several other avenues such as Ola Drive, Ola Food, and Ola Electric...Even if you look at its rival Uber, globally, their (Uber's) core ride-hailing numbers have also not grown sequentially when they presented numbers for their last analyst call."