Online cab aggregator Ola has signed a memorandum of understanding with BMW to make it a category partner for its luxury cars Ola Lux service which was launched in Mumbai earlier this year. BMW’s 3 Series sedans will be available on Ola Lux in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore and Ola plans to extend this to other cities, without mentioning a timeline. According to a Forbes India report, Lux accounts for over 1% of total rides on Ola.
BMW will also provide 100% financing through BMW Financial Services India for up to 4 years, after sales and “assured buy back” on contract completion offers for Ola’s drivers. BMW instructors will train drivers about its cars. Both the companies will also offer their services for the enterprise segment. At the moment, Ola says that the minimum fare for Lux is Rs 250 and Rs 20-22 per km. The cars are also available on an hourly basis through Ola Rentals.
At launch in Mumbai, Ola Lux offered cars from Jaguar, Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Toyota Fortuner, Honda Accord and other high end sedans and SUVs for Rs 200 and Rs 19 per km and Rs 2 per minute. The company had launched “Ola Luxury” in Bangalore in 2013, and in 2014, it expanded this service to Mumbai.
Will Ola apply for all India permits for Lux?
Ola’s BMW tie up comes at an interesting time when the Maharashtra government is aiming to regulate the online cab booking segment in India by imposing government specified fares and offers permits which are strictly for point to point and not tourism vehicles. Vehicles which ply with All India Tourist Permits (AITP) do not have regulations on the fuel and fare types. Interestingly, for vehicles above engine capacity 1,400 CC, there is no limitation on lower and higher fares, but the engine capacity is capped at 2,000 CC.
UberBlack shuttered in India
Ola launched Lux 2 months after Uber shuttered its UberBlack service everywhere in India, except Mumbai. Uber plied BLACK cars on a commission basis and charged Rs 200 as minimum fare, in addition to Rs 18 per km. According to an Economic Times report, Uber had dropped its fleet of BMWs, Mercedes’ and Audis in 2014, instead adding Innovas and Corollas for UberBLACK.
Last week, Google integrated Ola and Uber APIs into its Google Search and mobile browser apps. Users searching for directions will see a tab for getting a cab from either company and will display fare estimates and pickup times. Ola also launched its first dedicated training center for drivers, in partnership with Rise India and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in Chapra district in Bihar.