Why Ola's Bhavish Aggarwal Is So Sure About India's EV Transition
We must make India not only a big EV market but also a global EV manufacturing hub, says Aggarwal
"Coming to the US in early 2022! If you want earlier then you need to come to India," tweeted Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal on September 16, as a reply to Softbank Group International CEO Marcelo Claure's tweet, "when am I getting mine?".
On Friday, the company sold scooters worth over INR 1,100 crore in a two-day sale of its first range of electric scooters. However, it will be shipping the Ola Electric scooter to the US only by early 2022.
“This is unprecedented not just in the automotive industry but it is one of the highest sales in a day for a single product in Indian e-commerce history! We truly are living in a digital India,” Aggarwal wrote in a blog post on Friday.
Aggarwal's confidence in India's EV journey is not new. Earlier too, he had spoken about India’s ability to become a huge EV market on various occasions.
“Let’s have confidence in our ability to build indigenously and also attract global OEMs to build in India, not just import," he had tweeted in July 2021. This was after Tesla’s Elon Musk had said that he wanted to sell his vehicles in India, but import duties here were too high.
Musk had said that it was the highest in the world by far of any large nation. While many others like Hyundai and some senior officials agreed to Musk’s statement, Aggarwal insisted, according to media reports, that to fasten the EV pace in India, we should be building the technology and manufacturing ecosystem in India.
Ola has reportedly been slowly shifting its focus from mobility services to becoming a global player in the low-cost EV market and its two-day sale is a testimony to it. “It is also established that with the right product, India has huge pent-up demand and a massive domestic market for two-wheeler EVs. We must leverage this to drive innovation, a robust local EV ecosystem and make India not only a big EV market but also a global EV manufacturing hub,” Aggarwal said in the blog post.
Here are the highlights of Ola's EV plans towards achieving its goal of becoming a robust local EV ecosystem:
Reopen Sale During Diwali
Ola launched its first electric scooter S1 at INR 99,999 for the entry-level model and INR 1,29,999 for the long-range S1 Pro last month. It allowed users to book their reservation slots over the last few months. It was planning to launch the scooters on September 8. However, the company postponed the sale to September 15 because of technical difficulties. The company opened on the Ola app on September 15, prioritizing users based on their dates of reservation. Ola now plans to reopen the sales window on November 1 during Diwali. Consumers can book their reservation slots on the company’s website for INR 499.
A 500-acre Factory
Ola Electric is setting up a 500-acre factory in Tamil Nadu's Krishnagiri to make 10 million vehicles a year at full capacity, aiming to become the world's largest two-wheeler factory.
To complete the first phase of development of its factory, the company had secured $100 million in long term debt from the Bank of Baroda in July “Our ambition is to have a big impact in electric vehicles,” Aggarwal had said during the unveiling of the Ola Futurefactory in February while adding that “The only way we can create impact in electrification is by playing at scale. This business cannot be built by selling 2,000 vehicles a year.”
Earlier this week, Aggarwal had announced that Ola Future Factory would be run by women. 10,000 of them will be employed when the plant reaches full production capacity, making it the world’s largest women-only factory and the only all-women automotive manufacturing facility across the world.
The company also aims to make the scooters available in 1,000 cities simultaneously. This is new in India as most players have so far taken a phase-by-phase approach by launching e-scooters in dominant markets first.
Ola’s ride-hailing unit plan to list on stock exchanges soon. It had raised $500 million from Warburg Pincus and Temasek, giving early backers Tiger and Matrix a part exit from the company. “Over the last 12 months, we’ve made our ride-hailing business more robust, resilient and efficient. With strong recovery post lockdown and a shift in consumer preference away from public transportation, we are well-positioned to capitalize on the various urban mobility needs of our customers,” Aggarwal said.
Shanthi specialises in writing sector-specific trends, interviews and startup profiles. She has worked as a feature writer for over a decade in several print and digital media companies. She is also a mom who looks forward to playing a game of cards with her tween daughter every evening after work.