Ola taxi drivers talk to each other as they wait for passengers on a roadside in Amritsar.
NARINDER NANU | AFP | Getty Images
LONDON – Indian hail-fighting company Ola said Thursday it would incentivize its London drivers to switch to electric vehicles and activate the charm to convince city regulators that they are suitable to operate in the city.
As of Thursday, Ola will waive the commission fee for three months for drivers who own an electric model. Ola users in London can request a ride from a new category called “Ola EV”, where only electric vehicle drivers can take rides.
The start-up, supported by SoftBank, launched its app in the British capital last February in hopes of ousting Uber as the market leader. But his license was revoked just eight months later, and local traffic officials were concerned that Ola was not “fit and appropriate” to own one.
Ola appealed Transport for London’s decision not to renew the license. That said, it can still be operated in the city. Something similar happened to Uber twice, but the San Francisco-based company managed to regain its license after a legal battle with TfL.
In Ola’s case, TfL found that the company had committed “historical violations” that threatened public safety. It is said that unlicensed drivers were able to take more than 1,000 passenger trips with Ola and that the company did not notify regulators immediately when these violations were first discovered.
“We continue to work with TfL to address the issues raised openly and transparently,” Ola said in a statement. “At Ola, our core principle is to work closely, cooperatively and transparently with regulators like TfL.”
“As Ola stated at the time of TfL’s decision, we are appealing the decision. This way, our drivers and drivers can be assured that we will continue to work normally and provide London with safe and reliable mobility.”
Ola claims to have over 25,000 drivers in London, 700 of whom are Ola EV qualified. After the launch of Ola EV, the company will seek to expand its offerings through partnerships with other companies to encourage more drivers to switch from polluting vehicles.
In March, Uber classified all 70,000 of its UK drivers as workers after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that a group of the company’s drivers should be treated as workers rather than independent contractors. That meant Uber had to give its UK drivers a minimum wage, vacation pay, and retirement plans.
Other hailstorm apps, including Ola, Bolt, and Free Now, are reviewing the Supreme Court ruling to see if it will affect their business.
Ola has been digging deeper into electric vehicles lately. To date, the company’s Ola Electric unit, which makes electric scooters and charging stations, has raised over $ 300 million from investors, according to Crunchbase. The company recently hired Jaguar Land Rover veteran Wayne Burgess to lead vehicle design.