Uber to invest $1 billion in India to expand services

The logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone over a reserved lane for taxis in a street is seen in this photo illustration taken in Madrid on December 10, 2014. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

(Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] will invest $1 billion in India in the next nine months, as the online taxi-hailing company looks to expand its services in its biggest market outside the United States. Uber said it would use the additional investment to improve operations, expand beyond the 18 Indian cities where it now operates, and develop new products and payment solutions. "We are extremely bullish on the Indian market and see tremendous potential here," Amit Jain, president of Uber India said in a statement on Friday. "Uber has grown exponentially in India." Uber said India and China are its priority markets. It had said last month that it would invest more than $1 billion in China this year as it looks to rev up growth in the world's second largest economy. Uber operates in 57 countries, with an estimated value of more than $40 billion. But it has tangled with transport authorities across the globe, along with attorneys seeking to deem Uber drivers as employees entitled to benefits. In India, Uber has been at odds with authorities in the capital, New Delhi, where the government banned its services after an Uber driver was accused of rape in December. But a court revoked the ban this month. After the incident, Uber tightened its driver screening and in-app safety features. It has also modified its global business model to accept cash payment in some Indian cities. The company on Friday said it aimed to attain 1 million rides daily in India within six to nine months. An industry source said Uber now records 200,000 trips daily. (Reporting by Shivam Srivastava and Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru, Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi and Clarence Fernandez)