Uber to drive India business with $1B investment

Ride-sharing app company wants to clock up 1 million rides a day in the country through plans to expand its presence beyond the 18 cities where it currently runs.

Uber is planning to invest US$1 billion over the next nine months to drive its business in India, where it is targeting to clock up 1 million rides a day.

The ride-sharing app said the investment would go toward expanding its operations beyond the 18 cities where it currently operates, as well as developing new products and payment services. Quoting Uber's India president Amit Jain, The Economic Times reported that the startup also was looking to grow its driver network and public-private partnerships.

The announcement comes just days after local rival, Ola, is said to be discussions to raise U$500 million.

According to Uber, India is its largest market outside its domestic U.S. market and also its fastest growing. The company recently said it would invest US$1 billion in China where CEO Travis Kalanick revealed he was looking to grow Uber's presence to 50 cities this year, from the current 11 cities.

In India, it would be looking to clock up 1 million rides a day over over the next six to nine months and provide for 200,000 jobs by 2016.

The ride, however, has been less than smooth. Uber last year faced allegations that a passenger in Delhi was raped by one of its drivers, prompting a temporary ban by the Indian government. It resumed operations six weeks later in January after securing a taxi license and relaunched with new built-in safety features in its app, including a panic SOS button.

Uber also faces new legal action from one of the U.K.'s largest trade unions, GMB, which demanded its drivers be given the national minimum wage, paid leave, and rest breaks. The company had argued that its drivers were not employees and, therefore, not entitled to these rights.

In another report released by Queensland's Economic Policy Group (EPG), though, a ban on Uber X services in the Australian state had apparently resulted in losses totaling AU$40 million to the economy, due to a lack of competition in the local taxi industry.