Uber has a new competitor in one of its most competitive overseas markets that's backed by Softbank, Hyundai and other big names (UBER)


Ola cars in India

  • Ola, an Indian ride-hailing service, says its planning to launch in London this fall after receiving permission to operate. 
  • The company has investments from SoftBank, which also backed Uber, as well as automakers including Hyundai and Kia.
  • London has been a tricky market for Uber, where it was forced to stop giving rides for about a year by a court. 
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Ola, a ride-hailing firm based in India, said Thursday that’s its received a license to operate in London, one of the world’s largest markets for app-based taxi companies.

The company is targeting a launch this September in the British capital city, a company spokesperson told Business Insider:

London is one of the world’s most iconic cities and hosts a progressive mobility environment. We couldn’t be more excited to bring Ola to London in the time ahead! We are looking forward to building world-class mobility offerings for London, by collaborating with drivers, riders, the government and local authorities. Londoners will hear more from us closer to our launch in the city, as we get ready to serve them.

Ola’s been targeting London, where traditional taxi cab drivers are still angry as ever at the ride-hailing industry’s effect on their business, since at least 2018. News of its license comes as Uber attempts to shore up its lead in many international markets where it has struggled.

In 2017, London officials revoked Uber’s license to operate in the city because of instances where the company acted like it was ‘above the law,’ as a judge put it at the time. The company won back its right to operate in June 2018, but the court has an option to revisit that after a 15-month conditional period.   

Ola, meanwhile, is already operating in many cities throughout the UK, with a total of 110 cities total across four countries. The company has racked up a valuation of more than $5 billion, according to PitchBook data, with backers including Softbank (also an Uber investor), Hyundai, Kia, and more.

The fact that it’s so easy for a fledgling company to begin providing app-based taxi rides is a risk for Uber, according to Wall Street analysts.

“We view barriers to entry as fairly low for major technology providers and auto manufacturers, posing the biggest threat for existing ridesharing providers,” CFRA analyst Angelo Zino said in a recent note to clients. “Ridesharing companies will need to increasingly compete with certain non-ridesharing transportation-asa-service network companies and taxi companies as well as traditional automotive manufacturers, such as BMW and Tesla, which have entered or plan to enter market.”

Other ride-hailing competitors in London include Gett, ViaVan, Addison Lee, and a handful of others.

SEE ALSO: Uber is slowly quitting developing markets in Asia — here’s why India is probably next

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