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Bengaluru: Comuto SA, which owns ride-sharing service provider BlaBlaCar, has raised $200 million at a valuation of $1.6 billion in a Series D funding round from Insight Venture Partner, Lead Edge Capital and Vostok New Ventures, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

BlaBlaCar, which started services in 2006 as an inter-city ride sharing service, had earlier raised more than $110 million in three rounds, the last being a $100 million round from Index Venture partners, Accel Partners and Lead Edge Capital in July last year.

The company entered India in January while Ola and Uber were fighting it out in the intra-city online taxi aggregation market segment. BlaBlaCar, however, facilitates long distance ride sharing, the most prevalent use case being car owners travelling between cities offering empty seats to another co-traveller. This enables the car owners to share the cost with co-passengers while a traveller who avails of the service gets to travel at a lesser price as against availing of a public transport like a train or a bus.

BlaBlaCar charges the co-traveller a commission.

The company, which is present in 19 countries including France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Spain, Turkey and the UK. India is its only presence among the Asian countries. The company claims to have 20 million riders globally.

According to Raghav Gupta, country manager, India, BlaBlaCar, the India business has grown substantially in the last six months. About 350,000 seats have been shared across 700 cities in these six months, the company claims.

Despite the growth, BlaBlaCar is yet to start monetising – charging co-passengers a commission – in India.

“We typically start monetising after one to three years of entering a market. In India, monetisation is at least one year away," said Gupta. The company at present monetises its services in only five of the 19 countries in which it operates: France, Spain, UK, Italy and Netherlands.

Gupta said BlaBlaCar will enter Brazil by the end of the year as well as evaluate other Asian countries such as China, Japan and Indonesia. He did not disclose the company’s investment plans in India.

While well-capitalised businesses such as Ola and Uber have kept away from the inter-city segment, BlaBlaCar will face competition in the likes of Savaari and ZoomCar, both backed by venture capital firms, besides the thousands of unorganised car operators in the country.

“There will be some overlap with the likes of Zoomcar and Savaari,"said Gupta. But BlaBlaCar’s utility is slightly different as more than people travelling outstation with families, it will be useful for individuals as the car owner may have one or two vacant seats in the car, he added.

Car pooling as a concept has not taken off in India. SoftBank-backed Ola is considering launching a similar service, but within city limits, while Meru Cabs has already launched one earlier this month. A number of ride-sharing services such as Ridingo, Taxeeta, sRide and CarEgiri have come up recently, but no one has been successful in scaling up the business.

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