Online cab hailing company Uber is launching its autorickshaw service again starting with Bangalore and Pune in the country, reports PTI. Quoting Uber’s spokersperson, the PTI report reads that the cab aggregator will re-launch the service in New Delhi, Coimbatore, Indore and Bhubaneshwar following the launch in these two cities.
Uber has confirmed the launch to MediaNama, and said that it will start rolling out the service later this month.
As per the report, UberAUTO will partner with only licensed existing auto-drivers who have been accredited by the authorities and every driver partner on UberAUTO will be required to submit valid government documents before they are given access to the Uber app.
The cab aggregator had launched in April 2015, starting from Delhi and later shutdown it by the end of the year. After the Delhi pause, Uber reintroduced the service in April 2016 from Coimbatore and in the Indore in May 2016. However, it shutdown that also by March, 2017. It announced shutdown for a few cities, and for some it stopped the service silently.
WHY it paused before? In a statement shared by Uber, the company said that, “AUTO was a really good experience for us, our driver partners and riders, but we paused it to see how that side of India’s transport ecosystem evolves.”
At the time of Delhi’s UberAUTO pause it had said that it was temporarily removing the product “to solve specific problems that need to be resolved to help it scale.” Also, at that time a WSJ report cited a Uber spokesperson saying that, “It was a temporary experiment which has now ended,” contradictingly stating that the company had plans to re-introduce the service.
Uber’s spokesperson told that uberAUTO rides will be available at an introductory fare of Rs 25 for 4 KMs in Bangalore and Pune. In terms of payment option, a rider can pay just like any other Uber ride- via cash, card, or wallet.
Note that both Uber and Ola chauffeur-driven hatchbacks offer cheap rides starting from Rs 8/KM depending on the city, and their carpool services are even cheaper. For instance, UberPool in Delhi is Rs 39 flat for rides under 8KM, and UberPool in Bangalore starts from Rs 25 for riders under 4KM. Factors like cheaper-than-auto taxi may influence UberAUTO’s performance in the country.
Uber vs Ola
With this development, Ola and Uber lock horns directly. Ola launched its autorickshaw service in November 2014. Ola claims in a statement that it has around 1,20,000 auto rickshaws driver partners on its platform across 73 cities, and plans to launch in more locations in the coming months. The Ola app for Auto driver partners is available in English and 8 local languages namely Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam, and Telugu.
Note: We have updated the post, as we heard back from Uber.