An Uber employee at its Delhi office (file photo: Reuters)
Uber Technologies Inc plans to invest $1 billion in India in the next nine months, as the U.S. online taxi-hailing company looks to expand its services beyond the 18 Indian cities where it now operates. Its investment in India is now on a par with its investment in China, and signals an escalation of Uber’s rivalry with domestic rival Ola.
According to the Financial Times, the spending drive would see its service hit 1 million daily rides by March 2016, the first time it has produced such a target in India, its biggest market outside the United States.
"We are extremely bullish on the Indian market and see tremendous potential here," Amit Jain, president of Uber India said in a statement on Friday. "Uber has grown exponentially in India."
An industry source told Reuters that Uber currently records 200,000 trips daily.
The company said it would use the additional investment to improve operations and also develop new products and payment solutions. It has already modified its global business model to accept cash payment in some Indian cities.
India and China are priority markets for Uber. It revealed plans last month to invest more than $1 billion in China this year in an attempt to boost growth in the world's second largest economy.
The company operates in 57 countries, and has an estimated value of more than $40 billion. But it faces regulatory and legal challenges across the globe, with transport authorities and taxi unions seeking to limit its operations.
In India, Uber has been at odds with authorities in Delhi, where the government banned its services after an Uber driver was accused of rape last December. But a court revoked the ban earlier this month, clearing the way for the company to operate in the capital and reapply for a licence.
After the incident, Uber claimed it tightened its driver screening and in-app safety features.