After starting operations in Bangalore a few weeks ago, San Francisco based affordable luxury car rental service Uber is ready to add New Delhi to its growing list of cities. Uber’s fleet in Delhi will include Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Mercedes E & S class, BMW 3 & 5 series and Audi Q3, A4 & A6 and using any of these cars as a taxi isn’t going to be as expensive as you might think. Uber charges Rs. 70 as the base fare, plus Rs. 20 per kilometer and Rs. 2 per minute from there on in. The minimum fare will be Rs. 200.
In comparison, Meru Cabs, a popular Delhi taxi company charges Rs. 23 per kilometer. The only time Uber can turn out to be considerably more expensive is when you get stuck in a jam, as irrespective of the distance travelled, you are being billed Rs. 2 per minute or Rs. 120 an hour. Uber will initially cover Central and South Delhi with parts of Gurgaon, but the company plans to cover all of NCR soon.
Despite that Uber has tremendous potential to disrupt the rental car business, as in addition to pricing, the biggest pillar it stands on is the convenience its mobile apps offer. The app uses GPS to pin point your location and shows you the ETA of cabs around your location, and you can hail a cab with a single press of a button – no calls, no keying-in pickup addresses etc. Since the app is already tied to your credit card (something you need to do during sign up) paying for the ride at the end is also not a hassle, and everything is handled electronically.
Before you embark on a journey, you can also get a fare quote so that you have an idea of what you’ll be paying at the end of a journey. If you’re travelling with a friend, you can also choose to split the fare and get a portion billed to his/her Uber account.
(For example, a ride from India Gate to Defence Colony will cost somewhere in the region of 200-250 Rupees depending on traffic)
Another feature that the company wishes to highlight is safety. The app features a share my ETA option that lets you share your ETA with friends and family once you’ve boarded the car. This results in your friend/family member getting a text with a link that gives them information about the car’s precise location in real time, including the driver’s name and car details.
I’ve used Uber while visiting the United States, and the overall experience was very pleasant. Therefore I recommend that you give Uber a go here in India as well, whether you’re in Delhi or Bangalore. To get you started, the good people at Uber are giving The Handheld Blog readers two free rides of upto Rs. 500 each. All you need to do is enter the promo code “THEHANDHELDBLOG” in the Promotions tab if you already have an Uber Account or while signing up.
Download the Uber app for iPhone or Android, or you can redeem the discount directly at uber.com/go. Uber also has a BlackBerry app, but Windows Phone users will have to make do with the web version for now.
Uber is currently active in 45+ markets across 6 continents and is backed by industry heavy weights such as Google Ventures, TPG Capital, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Goldman Sachs, Benchmark Capital and Menlo Ventures among others.