Uber is bullish on India. So much so, that it reportedly plans to plunk down some $1 billion into a major initiative in that country to target 1 million rides per day by March 2016, according to a Financial Times report. (Paywall)
Such a move would likely require the company to expand service beyond the 18 cities it currently covers in India and invest more in product, hiring and payment, the report said. Much of Uber’s investment is also expected to go toward expanding the subsidies it offers to lure new passengers and drivers to the platform.
Industry estimates currently have Uber at some 200,000 daily rides in India.
New investment would also advance the ride-sharing company’s interest in India to the same level as in China — and coincidentally would raise the competitive stakes for India’s own ride-sharing service, Ola.
The Chinese market, whose top domestic ride-sharing company Didi Kuaidi is backed by Alibaba and Tencent, has a more mature market than India, carrying some 1 million daily rides. Ola is backed by the Japanese and American companies SoftBank and Tiger Global.
Uber’s ambitious expansion plans come amidst controversy and possible new restrictions. Just this week, a court ruling in New Delhi may wind out upholding an earlier ban on ride-hailing apps. In December, Uber was banned for a month following a sexual assault allegation against one of its drivers, after which it added safety features to its app for passengers.