Ola looks to shift to CNG vehicles in Delhi
Taxi-hailing service Ola, run by ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd, will add close to 3,000 compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles in the national capital region within a week to comply with a Delhi high court order.
The company is likely to phase out all diesel vehicles in the city with time. “We are committed to complying with CNG adoption and are adding more and more CNG cabs onto the platform,” a company spokesperson said.
Ola claims that it currently has close to 25,000 vehicles running in the national capital region (NCR) and about 50% of these are run on diesel while the rest are already running on CNG.
However, according to industry estimates, the number of diesel vehicles on the cab aggregators like Ola and Uber could be as high as 85% in the Delhi region.
“Ola is working with car manufacturers and dealers to help exchange the diesel vehicles with those compatible with CNG,” said the company spokesperson. Technically it is not possible to run a diesel vehicle with CNG.
The court’s decision of banning diesel vehicles in the point to point service is likely to hurt thousands of drivers who have invested in buying cars to partner with cab aggregators Ola and San Francisco-based Uber in Delhi-NCR region.
Ola’s move to switch to CNG vehicles comes in days after the Delhi Court said that the cab aggregator would have to go off Delhi roads until it gets a licence under the Radio Tax Scheme of 2006.
Ola had appealed to the court that being a service aggregator, it should be exempted from the provisions of the Radio Taxi Scheme.
The bench comprising chief justice G. Rohini and justice Jayant Nath on 12 August ruled that as per the amended Radio Taxi Scheme, Ola will be treated as a radio taxi service provider even if it is an aggregator of radio taxis. The company is working closely with the government authorities to possibly work out a middle ground in order to support the thousands of drivers.
For Ola, Delhi is among the top three markets for the company. It gets close to 50,000-75,000 bookings in a day. The company claims that it does close to 750,000 rides in a day across India.
Ola, founded by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati in January 2011, is India’s third most valuable start-up, with an estimated valuation of roughly $2.5 billion. Poor transport infrastructure and a shift in consumer habits towards convenience and on-demand services have fuelled the booming demand for cab services such as Ola and Uber. The company now claims to have an 80% market share.