The newest ridesharing company to hit New Zealand roads has clocked half a million rides in the six months it has been in the market.

Bangalore-based Ola has had 500,000 rides, an almost 2000 per cent increase from a recorded 25,000 in December, a month after its launch.

Ola New Zealand country manager Brian Dewil would not share figures on how many active riders Ola had but said the company had exceeded expectations of where it would be at after operating in the New Zealand market for six months.

"What has been very exciting for us is the number of drivers who have been interested in Ola. We've had 7000 drivers sign up so far, of that 5500 are actively driving," Dewil said.


Ola says total rides combined have resulted in close to two million kilometres travelled and that it has user growth of around 50 per cent week on week.

The ridesharing company was founded in 2011 by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, and was running only in India up until 2017 when it launched its service in Australia in February, and in Britain the following year.

Like Uber and other ridesharing services, Ola operates through a smartphone app pairing drivers with riders close by.

Ola entered the market with an introductory commission rate of 9 per cent - well below the 15 per cent charged by Zoomy and 20-25 per cent charged by Uber. It now takes a commission rate of 18 per cent.

"When we entered into New Zealand the fast acquisition of customers and drivers showed us that Kiwis definitely were looking for an alternate and they were looking for some choice within the ride-share marketplace," Dewil said.

"New Zealand, in terms of its launch, has done very, very well comparatively in that we've exceeded where we would be compared to the other markets.

"We didn't expect New Zealand [market] to perform as well as it has - it has become a spotlight in terms of how the international business has developed."

The launch in Australia around a year before New Zealand provided a manual of what not to do here, Dewil said. Australia was the company's first pick for international expansion outside of India because of the size of the population.


Ola plans to continue to grow its market share in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. It has no immediate plans to launch into any other cities.

"We're seeing an opportunity to gain much more market share in these particular cities than we do at the moment. We really want to establish ourselves by the end of the next financial year as the viable alternate ride share. We want to establish ourselves as the choice when it comes to ride share."

Brian Dewil, New Zealand country manager at Ola. Photo / Supplied
Brian Dewil, New Zealand country manager at Ola. Photo / Supplied

There are currently four ridesharing companies in the New Zealand market; market giant Uber and New Zealand locals Zoomy and DriveHer.

Dewil said Ola was currently "number two" on the market dominance ranking but hoped to climb the ladder to snatch the top spot. "We've aggressively invested in New Zealand ... we've actually for the first time launched TV ads in the market and we've run a lot of out of home advertising noticed that our competitors have followed suit," he said.

"Whenever you have a monopoly there is a tendency for things to be unfair. While our main focus as a brand is to be seen and known as the fairer brand, I think we've definitely levelled the playing field."

Ola operates a food delivery business in India, Foodpanda, a German start-up which it acquired in late 2017. There were no plans to bring Foodpanda to New Zealand at this stage, Dewil said, and Ola would more likely launch its electric vehicle business here before food delivery, he implied.

Ola clocked more than a billion trips worldwide last year.