Uber has no plans to quit mobility business: India head | Mint

Uber has no plans to quit mobility business: India head

Uber’s India and South Asia president Prabhjeet Singh says the company wants to serve a larger part of India.
Uber’s India and South Asia president Prabhjeet Singh says the company wants to serve a larger part of India.

Summary

“In mobility biz, we continue to double down, especially in those categories that are India-first, like rentals and inter-city vehicles”

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI : Uber has no plan to exit or reorganize its India mobility business, the US-based ride-hailing giant’s India and South Asia president Prabhjeet Singh said, amid speculation that it is looking to transfer ownership of its India operations. Edited excerpts from an interview:

Globally for Uber, the food delivery business is larger than the mobility business. You don’t have a play in that market in India at all. Add to the fact that your average ticket sizes remain much smaller than they are in markets like the US and UK. What’s your strategy to fortify the India business?

India is a very large and under-penetrated market for ride- hailing, with only 0.5% of the population using the service. We are committed to our success here and will build for multiple decades from this point on. We are in it to win it for the long term. For a large part of our history in the Indian market, we were only in the car-hailing business, which means we could only serve a small segment of the market. Not everybody in India travels by air-conditioned cars. In fact, the majority of Indians travel by buses, three-wheelers and two-wheelers, and therefore, recognizing how important India is for us, we have started diversifying into these categories. By bringing the price down through these segments, we open up the addressable market to a much larger segment of the population. And thereby, we see that it is actually a coherent strategy. We want to serve a larger part of India. Now that we have a more diversified product portfolio, we are also expanding into more cities. I don’t see the lack of delivery business affecting our mobility business in any way. We have a razor-sharp strategy within the mobility segments. We are operating at multiple price points, from $1-20. We are creating a price ladder focused on building viable, sustainable businesses on each of these.

Can you speak about the timing of Uber selling off its stake in Zomato? Did it indicate any sort of first step or a direction in the winding down of your India business?

I can unambiguously and unequivocally tell you that we have never explored exiting India and are busy building for the next decade. We did sell our Zomato stake recently—but the stake sale in Zomato has absolutely no bearing on our mobility business. We are a global company with various investments, and we look to monetize our stakes in companies from time to time. We didn’t sit on the board in Zomato. It was a minority investment for us. In the mobility business itself, we continue to double down, especially those categories that are India-first, like rentals, inter-city and high-capacity vehicles. We are putting considerable resources around this business. On the supply side, we have encouraged our largest fleet partners in EMEA and Africa—a leading mobility fintech—and brought them to launch a rent-to-own model where they’re keen to now add thousands of new vehicles on the platform, encouraging drivers to join Uber. We see opportunities across the board, and an exit is not a conversation we’ve had. We also don’t see how transferring our business to another entity would have any merit at all.

National and state-level regulatory guidelines have mapped out an EV transition timeline for commercial fleet aggregators. Are you equipped to meet the targets?

We are in an ongoing dialogue with multiple regulators. The FAME-II subsidy really propelled wider private ownership of electric vehicles. Reducing the upfront cost of acquisition through more accessible and viable financing schemes will be important. Secondly, OEMs have to manufacture vehicles with a certain range that can be deployed as cabs. Some leading OEMs have still not come out with mass market EVs yet.

At present, out of 600,000 drivers on our platform, there are 5,000 EVs. So, we are still in the very early stages. Uber globally has committed to full electrification by 2040.

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