US-based taxi hailing app company Uber is gearing up for a mega expansion plan in India, as it considers the country to be its second most important market outside the US. Given its exit from China, a much bigger market in terms of size, early this year, India has emerged as a key market for Uber to make up for its losses in the dragon country.
Based on the feedback from the Indian riders, Uber will introduce additional features like calendar integration, people search and advance booking to its app in the coming months, a report in The Indian Express said.
Prabhjeet Singh, Uber's Head – Strategy and Planning, told the newspaper that the new app loads 50 percent faster compared to the older one, keeping in mind that several parts of the country does not have effective 3G and 4G network coverage.
While the new app will allow users to book rides outside the app, several new features such as allowing users to book cabs via webage, sharing ETA for real-time location, allowing users to integrate calendar apps are being added to improve experiences for its riders, the Indian Express added.
The Travis Kalanick founded company is also making India as the regional hub for its South Asian businesses. Major expansion and operations across the region are being executed out of the Indian offices, with the company launching its services in Sri Lanka late last year while starting operations in Bangladesh mid-November, the Economic Timesreport said.
“We are expanding into multiple cities across the region and not just in India alone,” Amit Jain, South Asia president, Uber said in a interview with The Economic Times.
However, the company said it may not expand beyond the 29 Indian cities compared with Ola's presence in over 100 cities in the country.
“We are investing in all aspects of the business,” said Jain. The focus is on building products and technologies that are customised to India. In the past one year, the company has rolled out several features that are specific to India, such as cash payments, Dial an Uber and call centre support for drivers. These features were not present anywhere else in the world," the ET report added quoting Jain.
Besides facing stiff competition from its nearest rival Ola, the company is currently embroiled in regulatory hurdles with several state governments.
Last month, Uber had kicked off a campaign seeking support from people in Mumbai in response to Maharashtra state government's proposed draft rules on regulating the taxi-hailing app companies.
Not just Maharashtra, the company is already facing similar issues in the state of Karnataka over the Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules 2016, notified on 2 April. Not just in India, Uber had earlier run-ins with regulators across the world like France and the US as it competes with local taxi operators.