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Namma TYGR, Bengaluru's newest player in the ride-hailing space, launched its service in the city on Wednesday, promising cheaper cab rides for customers while still sharing a bigger cut of the earnings with drivers.
The service, which is backed by Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Kumaraswamy, was started by drivers who were dissatisfied with the existing players Uber and Ola. Addressing all driver qualms, Namma TYGR thinks it can become the largest ride-hailing player in the city, claiming to have already signed up 10,000 drivers.
This is one of Kumaraswamy's tactics of winning the large vote bank in preparation for the Karnataka Assembly Elections in April next year and the drivers make up has given rise to what many consider the first real competitor to giants Uber and Ola. Most of the drivers in Bengaluru hail from Ramanagara, Mandya and Channapatna which are strongholds of the Vokkaliga leader.
While the service will not follow the cooperative model that was initially suggested, it has been built keeping driver qualms in mind.
"We have already signed up 10,000 drivers, out of which 5,000 are already active on the app. The remainder will come onboard in the next few days after the verification process is completed. Namma TYGR has been built keeping the drivers in mind, so we are fairly confident that more driver will sign up for the service," said Aditya Poddar, Founder and CEO of TYGR.
Namma TYGR will follow a fixed fare structure, offering customers a ride in a hatchback for Rs 12.5 per kilometre, in a sedan for Rs 14.5 per kilometre and in an SUV for Rs 18.5 per kilometre. The service will take only a 12 per cent cut from a driver's earnings on each trip, which is less than half of what rivals Uber and Ola charge.
Poddar is confident that the company will be able to sustain the business despite not charging surge pricing from customers and taking a much smaller cut from drivers. He says the cost structures that Uber and Ola have built force them to demand higher margins, something which Namma TYGR will not have.
"As you have seen, we have been working in the background for quite some time. The technology is extremely hard to build, but at launch, we will have all the features customers and drivers expect from a service like this. We will also continue to launch new features which are beneficial to drivers, since the whole point of this company is to empower drivers," added Poddar.
While the service says earnings of drivers will be far more modest in comparison to Rs 80,000 and upwards that was promised to drivers by Uber and Ola initially, drivers will enjoy far more benefits by driving with Namma TYGR. Benefits such as free healthcare, accident and life cover, free car maintenance and 24/7 on-road support, will hopefully appeal to drivers to make the switch.
Further, benefits also include covering the cost of textbooks for the children of drivers who go to school, something that Kumaraswamy has personally attested.
While it is to be seen how customers take to Namma TYGR's service in Bengaluru, a top executive from one of the ride-hailing giants told Business Standard that even if the company is able to attract 10,000 drivers, it will put a big burden on the supply for Uber and Ola in the city. Bengaluru which has an estimated 100,000 cabs on its roads, perpetually sees excessive demand from customers.
Uber and Ola, which built large legions of drivers in the city have seen supply fall as they cut incentives paid out to drivers. The cost-cutting measure is what pushed drivers to seek political intervention, which JD(S) party clinched and proposed the start of a new service.
For now, Namma TYGR says it will look to build and refine its service in Bengaluru, but says it is only a matter of time before venturing into other cities in the country. The drivers union behind Namma TYGR is already in touch with its counterparts in Mumbai and Delhi and says the driver in those cities are also eager for the launch of such a service.
Poddar says another big difference between his company and Uber and Ola will be respect for the laws of the land. He vouches that Namma TYGR will not violate norms in the way that Uber and Ola have done, and will not launch a ridesharing service, which apart from being illegal does not make monetary sense for drivers.