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Is bike-taxi service the next big thing ?

At present, Uber is doing more than 4 million rides a day. In order to expand its service, the company is willing to partner local players

Kanishka Gupta  |  New Delhi 

After Ola, now Uber plans to expand its operation in the country, from 52 cities at present to 200 by the end of 2020. The key driver of its expansion will not be car hailing but the bike taxi service, which was launched in India in July this year.

Such service has been rolled out in 30 cities, doing over 150,000 trips a day. However, it is yet to be launched in the big states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, where Uber is working through regulations.

This means, while car-hiring service will still be available in most of these cities, two-wheeler service will be there in all the cities if there is regulatory permission.

Its arch-rival, launched its bike taxi service in 2016. It has expanded its service to over 200 cities and towns across the country. However, the company is aiming to grow threefold to have 1 million bike-partners in the next one year.

Elaborating on Uber’s strategy in India for next year, Pradeep Parameswaran, president of and South Asia, said: “Our move is to go from being in the premium AC-car business, which is based on the high end of the market, to what is now, where technology can play a dramatic role in the middle and the mass segment of the market. Earlier we did not have the products that were relevant for people outside cities. India does not move in cars, Indians move in two- and three-wheelers, and buses.”

“Cars will be available in some shape, but the Uber value preposition will be based on our mass products, not on premium AC cars,” the president added.

How is planning to do the expansion ?

At present, Uber is doing more than 4 million rides a day. In order to expand its service/reach, the company is willing to partner local players that have a similar offer and would like to come on their platform.

In fact, it is undertaking a pilot project with Bajaj Auto for Qute (quadricycle) with 100 vehicles, and plans to expand it to other markets too, after getting good responses from both the riders as well as the users.

It might also launch intra-city bus service.

However, a decision whether it is for next year has not been decided. Speaking on the future of the car-hailing business, Parameswaran pointed out: “Growth in the car business has matured, and from the role it plays in our portfolio today, it is likely to be a driver of profitability.”

Why is Uber emphasising more on its bike-taxi service ?

Parameswaran said the bike opportunity was huge because there were more than 200 million two-wheelers in the country.

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First Published: Tue, December 03 2019. 14:04 IST
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