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App-based ride-sharing service Ola is in talks with three German luxury carmakers to launch a new subscription service for luxury cars under its new self-driving offering claims a report by PTI citing sources.
According to the report, sources with knowledge of the situation have told PTI that Ola is currently in talks with Audi, BMW and Mercedes to launch a new self-driving service where users can access luxury cars from the three German brands by paying a subscription fee. Such services are currently available in international markets like the United States.
One of PTI's sources stated that given the exorbitant cost of owning a luxury car in India, the direct to customer model may not work in the sub-continent. The same source told the publication that Ola feels that there is a lot of potential for the new luxury car self-driving service in India thanks to its scale of operations across categories and multiple cities across the nation.
The news agency claims that Ola is believed to have earmarked an investment of up to $500 million (Rs 34.91 billion), including debt, for its self-driving venture. Ola is currently running a small-scale pilot program of its new self-driving service in the city of Bangalore, and is expected to launch the new service within the next few weeks, through Ola Fleet Technologies.
This is not the first time that Ola has gotten luxury carmakers involved in its service. The app-based ride sharing service had earlier added BMW vehicles back in October 2016 to its fleet of cars throuugh the Lux service offered in its app. When contacted by PTI regarding the story, niether Ola nor the German luxury car trio of Audi, Mercedes and BMW replied to the news agency.
Ola is currently ramping up its ride sharing business aggressively as it looks to tackle Uber both in India and in Australia, where the company expanded into in early 2018 (Ola is also present in the UK). The Bangalore-based ride sharing service which has also been expanding its food delivery operations through Fodpanda. Recently, South Korean carmaker Hyundai and its premium brand Kia (which is set to enter India later this year with production-spec SP SUV), invested $300 million (Rs. 20.94 billion) into Ola.