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Uber launches in Mumbai as company seeks alternative payment modes

After launching in a limited testing phase, Uber today officially launched its full service in Mumbai. The coverage area will extend from Colaba and go up to Versova, covering Worli and Bandra in betw

uber-mumbai-launch

uber-mumbai-launchAfter launching in a limited testing phase, Uber today officially launched its full service in Mumbai. The coverage area will extend from Colaba and go up to Versova, covering Worli and Bandra in between. Mumbai is Uber’s fifth city in India where it has launched its services. The tariff starts from a minimum fare of Rs 200 with a base fare of Rs 100 (starting meter) and Rs 17 per kilometre in addition to Rs 2 per minute. Rides to Thane, Navi Mumbai and Dahisar will cost a flat rate of Rs 2,500 though.

“We are very excited about Mumbai. During our testing phase we found the usage to be a multiple when compared to all other cities in India and is one of the highest in South East Asia. It exceeded our expectations in terms of what we predicted and expected,” Neeraj Singhal, who looks after launching Uber in international markets told BGR India.

Currently Uber has a fleet of Toyota Innova, Honda Accord and a limited number of Mercedes Benz E-Class cars. One of the reasons why Uber catches the attention of people in other Indian cities is the presence of bigger mix of luxury cars including those from Audi and BMW, however Singhal is confident that the fleet in Mumbai is good enough for users who will appreciate Uber’s service. What differentiates Uber from other services is users can call a car with a single click from an app on their smartphones and the entire transaction is cashless. At the end of the ride, Uber deducts the fare amount directly from the user’s credit card.

“Uber is designed around reliability. Since we are a technology company and don’t own the cars, if there isn’t enough supply in the market we cannot put enough on the road. We want users to be able to get a car quickly. The current average ETA in Mumbai is 11.4 minutes. In other cities in India it is less than 10 minutes,” Singhal explains.

Uber is also looking at providing users with alternative modes of payments. The current model requires the user to have a credit card. Singhal says that Uber realizes it can be a challenge in India where credit card penetration is about 18 million, though he reckons the company is doing well in the country. He won’t disclose the alternative payment mechanisms Uber is considering. One option could be having debit card swipe machines in the car, something that other radio cab services like Meru already offer.

On the flat rate on rides to Thane, Navi Mumbai and Dahisar, Singhal explains that drivers have to come back empty from those locations since Uber does not offer pick up services from there, yet. “There is both the distance travelled empty and the time cost at play,” he says.

Uber is actively looking at expanding in more cities in India, though Singhal remains tightlipped about the future launch cities. However, a quick look at the careers section on Uber’s website throws up Pune and Kolkata as the Indian cities where Uber is recruiting. Uber is currently available in Bangalore, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and now Mumbai.

BGR India readers can get Rs 500 off on their first Uber ride anywhere in India. Use the code BGRINDIA in the Uber app before requesting a ride. This is for first-time users only and is not applicable for existing users.

  • Published Date: April 25, 2014 8:30 AM IST
  • Updated Date: April 25, 2014 2:02 PM IST