Uber expects to tap into more geographies and expand its services to include two-wheelers and three-wheelers, its global VP for public policy said
Andrew Byrne said the expansion of Uber’s operations in India would also lead to an increase in its headcount in the country
Byrne said the cost of EVs continue to be a challenge for the company as it chases its goal to become net zero
Ride-hailing major Uber reportedly expects India to emerge as its largest market globally in the next decade as the company moves its focus towards two-wheelers (2W) and three-wheelers (3W).
Uber’s global vice-president for public policy Andrew Byrne told Moneycontrol that the company aims to double its presence in India as it eyes a big chunk of growth in the country.
“We expect to double our presence in India, tap into more geographies, expand our services to include more three- and two-wheelers, which is where the biggest growth will be,” said Byrne.
He added that this expansion would also lead to an increase in Uber’s workforce in the country which currently stands at 3,000. “In fact, what we are building in Hyderabad and Bengaluru is being used for our services worldwide,” he added.
Byrne also said that administrative compliances continue to be a challenge in India, which have ‘prodded’ Uber to think of different ways to cater to the market. He, however, added that the country has come a long way since 2013 when Uber had a ‘tough time’ explaining its service to the regulators.
“We do believe there is economic value in ride-sharing regulations if you want the full benefit of a service like Uber,” added Bryne.
The comment comes as Uber continues to grapple with regulatory tussles with state governments across the country from Karnataka to Maharashtra. Different states have different licensing regimes which increases the compliance burden for the company.
On the question of Uber India’s switch to green vehicles, Byrne said the cost of electric vehicles (EVs) continues to be a challenge for the company as it chases its goal to become net zero. Touting Uber’s partnership with Tata Motors to roll out 25,000 EVs on its platform, he said it was just the tip of the iceberg.
Responding to questions about the experience and safety of customers during Uber rides, Byrne said that the company is ‘constantly innovating’ to cater to the unique demands of the Indian market.
The reassurance comes barely a couple of days after a man was arrested for molesting and abusing a female Uber driver in Kolkata. In the past few months, many such incidents have come to light in different parts of the country.
Amid growing cases of ride-cancellations on the platform, Byrne said Uber has introduced more transparency and reforms to make it attractive for drivers to stay with the company.
“We have had significant issues with cancellations and reliability, and are constantly talking to our drivers. We have introduced more transparency so that the driver knows exactly how much he/she is getting paid. We have started paying drivers more regularly. We need to double the number of drivers and for that, we have to make it attractive for them to be with us,” Byrne added.
Available in 125 cities across the country, Uber competes with the likes of Ola Cabs, Rapido, and BluSmart across various categories. As Uber looks to scale its operations, hectic activity seems to be underway behind the scenes.
Last month, Uber appointed former investment banker Arnab Kumar as the director of business development for India and South Asia. Just prior to that, it also unveiled the group ride feature in the country which allows users to share the ride with users enroute the same destination.
Even as it fights a multi-front regulatory battle with authorities in Maharashtra, Delhi and Karnataka, the ride-hailing major has been bogged down by growing incidents of women safety-related issues. Alongside, it has also been under spotlight for poor ratings on the gig workers index.
Meanwhile, losses continue to be a major pain point for Uber India. It reported a net loss of INR 216 Cr in FY22, down 35% from INR 333.9 Cr in FY21. On the other hand, revenue grew 4% year-on-year (YoY) to INR 396.95 Cr in the year ended March 2022.