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Uber to relaunch autorickshaw hailing service in India
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

The Indian arm of global ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies is bringing back UberAUTO, the autorickshaw service it discontinued two years ago.

The relaunch will begin with Bengaluru and Pune, an Uber spokesperson said.

Customers in these two cities will be able to book autorickshaw rides through an ‘AUTO’ option on the Uber app starting later this month. They will be able to pay via cash, Paytm and debit/credit cards.

“Auto rickshaws are ubiquitous to mobility options in many Indian cities,” an Uber spokesperson said.

According to news agency Press Trust of India, Uber will expand this service to other cities over time.

Uber first launched UberAUTO in April 2015 in New Delhi, five months after Ola launched Ola Auto.

However, Uber discontinued the service eight months later owing to some undisclosed ‘specific problems’.

“We are temporarily removing this product (UberAUTO) to solve specific problems that need to be resolved to help it scale,” a spokesperson for the ride-sharing app said in December 2015 when the service was shut down.

Rival Ola currently has more than 1.2 lakh autorickshaws registered on its platform across 73 cities, and plans to launch in more cities in the coming months. The Ola app for auto driver partners is available in nine Indian languages.

The homegrown unicorn has been testing many initiatives to cover a wide spectrum of transportation services in India.

In addition to the three-wheeler service under Ola Auto and taxi cab service where it offers on-demand short distance conveyance in hatchback, sedan and luxury cars, outstation trips and rental, Ola currently has a bus service under Ola Shuttle, a two-wheeler service under Ola Bikes. It is currently piloting bicycle sharing services known as Ola Cycle Pool Services, or Ola Pedal, and is expanding its electric car fleet too.

Backed by SoftBank, Tiger Global and Tencent and others, Ola recently raised $1.1 billion from investors and is on course to raise a further $1 billion.

Uber, too, has received funding of late. A little more than a week ago, a consortium led by Japanese investment behemoth Softbank announced its decision to buy a large number of shares of Uber Technologies Inc in a deal that values the US-headquartered ride-hailing firm at $48 billion.

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