The app-based taxi space in India is heating up by the day. While the top two Ola and Uber are competing for market share, consumer attention and investor funds, whereas smaller, local players have been compelled to reinvent their services. Mumbai-based Meru Cabs is one, which redesigned its app and rolled out attractive offers to riders two years ago. However, not much changed for it. Now, Meru claims that Ola and Uber are “distorting” the taxi market in India by burning huge amounts of cash fuelled by massive rounds of VC funding. Also Read - Ola to offer free oxygen concentrators to the needyAlso Read - Ola India set to launch first electric scooter in 2021
Meru has filed multiple complaints with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) alleging that Ola and Uber are misusing their market position, and this is being furthered by the sustained interest in both operators by Japan’s SoftBank. “Even before there is any merger or alliance between the two through global investors, there is already a unified monopoly,” Meru CEO Nilesh Sangoi said. He told Reuters that Uber and Ola had been altering driver incentives and passenger fares. ALSO READ: Ola receives $1.1 billion in funding from SoftBank, Tencent and others
Incidentally, Meru’s complaints come less than 24 hours after Ola announcing that it had raised $1.1 billion in funding from SoftBank, Tencent, and others. Meru reckons that SoftBank has a greater strategic role to play in the domestic cab market, and could make Ola-Uber ride together. This is not the first time that Meru has threatened Ola with though. Its earlier anti-trust plea was turned down by the CCI in July. Meru had alleged that Ola was abusing its dominance in Bengaluru’s taxi market. The new complaint extends it to four cities. ALSO READ: SoftBank keen to invest in either Uber or Lyft before entering America: Reports
Until Ola emerged in 2012 and Uber debuted in India in 2014, Meru was the leading fleet taxi operator in India. However, as Ola expanded its network of cabs to 110 cities (as of now), Meru’s fleet services only 24 cities. Uber, in just three years, is present in more than 30 cities. Ola, meanwhile, is planning to start operations in neighboring countries. Quite clearly, Meru is unsettled by the duopoly taking shape in the domestic taxi market. Lack of venture funds coupled with poor rider-traction has propelled Meru to cry foul. Over to CCI now.