clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Nobody in India Wanted Fancy Rides, So Uber Is Cutting Them

Demand for some services -- UberBlack, for instance -- turns out not to be so high in India.

Jason Del Rey

As the company would have it, India is Uber’s third-largest market when it comes to number of trips. With 250,000 drivers on the platform, Uber India has managed to expand from 11 cities to 26 in the last few months and it has no plans to slow down. In fact, the company fully expects to continue to expand at that rate over the next year.

But with the expansion across the behemoth that is India’s transportation market, Uber has hit a few roadblocks. A few months after Uber shuttered its auto rickshaw service — which Uber attributes to an inability to scale the service given current regulatory restrictions on price and supply — the company confirmed it has phased out its premium UberBlack service in the country. Now, the primary services offered in most cities Uber India operates are its hatchback service UberGo, UberX and UberXL.

No surprise, demand for a luxury vehicle via UberBlack was simply not sufficient. Riders in India are primarily looking for a cost-effective and convenient transportation option. For those traveling with several people or who need a larger vehicle to, for example, go to the airport, the company offers its UberXL service in place of UberBlack at a slightly higher price mark than UberX. Uber has also launched a number of other services such as its UberPool equivalent called UberCommute and another Wi-Fi-enabled service called UberWifi, though the company has yet to significantly scale those services.

Uber India, as well as its competitor Ola, is also facing regulatory scrutiny over its recently launched motorcycle-hailing service called UberMoto. The government of the state of Karnataka — of which Bangalore is the capital — has reportedly seized 62 two-wheelers since Uber launched UberMoto on March 3. The government contends neither Uber nor Ola received regulatory approval to operate a commercial motorcycle service. Ola has shut its motorcycle service down as a result while Uber continues to operate though the company contends it is working with the government closely on this issue.

The company’s growth in India has undoubtedly had its hiccups, but it is paired with a commitment on Uber’s part to onboard 50,000 female driver partners — which is part of the company’s larger commitment to garner one million female driver partners globally — and the company’s engagement with the larger Indian tech scene through a startup mentorship program called Uber Exchange.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.