Ola targets 10-fold rise in driver base by 2022

Ola wants to add at least 5 million new drivers in five years in its battle against Uber even as the initial surge in supply of cabs has stagnated

Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal. Photo: OnlyPix
Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal. Photo: OnlyPix

Bengaluru: Ride-hailing company Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) is aiming at a 10-fold increase in the number of drivers affiliated to its platform in the next five years as its battle with Uber Technologies Inc. for a lion’s share of India’s online taxi segment intensifies.

The SoftBank and DST Global-backed homegrown unicorn, valued at $5 billion, wants to add at least five million new drivers to its platform by 2022—an almost 10-fold rise from its current driver base of 550,000, according to co-founder and chief executive officer Bhavish Aggarwal.

“Ola is proud to be a part of PM Narendra Modi’s Skill India and Drive India initiatives. We believe that skilling will be a key driver to create sustainable livelihoods for a young India,” said Aggarwal in a statement on Monday.

“The mobility sector in the country is seeing phenomenal growth and has the potential to empower aspiring individuals from all walks of life to become micro-entrepreneurs. Ola’s association with this initiative aims to positively impact the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of driver entrepreneurs, to realise our mission of building mobility for a billion Indians,” the statement added.

Aggarwal was speaking at the launch of a training centre for drivers at Chhapra in Bihar, which is a joint initiative of Ola, Rural Institute of Skill and Enterprise Development of India (Rise India) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).

Ola and Uber are striving to grow their business after the initial surge in supply of cabs stagnated, raising the stakes in a highly charged market share battle between a homegrown start-up and a US technology behemoth.

The lure of professional independence and high earnings has brought cab drivers in hordes to Ola and Uber India over the last two years. Since late last year though, both have struggled to keep up the pace of signing up drivers in a nascent market with a limited supply of cabs.

Both companies have also launched their respective leasing programmes, which helps them get more drivers on board and keeps them locked in to their platform for a predetermined period.