Ola Forays Into India’s EV Market With Below Rs 1-Lakh Scooter

Bhavish Aggarwal riding the newly launched Ola electric scooter. (Photographer: Nishant Sharma/BloombergQuint)

Ola Forays Into India’s EV Market With Below Rs 1-Lakh Scooter

Ola Electric Mobility Ltd. has forayed into battery-powered vehicles with a scooter priced at less than Rs 1 lakh, challenging Ather Energy Pvt. and Bajaj Auto Ltd. in the nation’s nascent but competitive market.

“We need to accelerate the journey for EVs, and completely reject petrol and commit to electrification,” Bhavish Aggarwal, chief executive officer of Ola Group, said while addressing reporters from in its newly launched office in Bengaluru that also showcased various colors of the soon-to-be-launched scooter. BloombergQuint attended the unveiling in the city on the invitation of Ola Electric.

The scooters will come in two models, Ola S1 and Ola S1 Pro, priced at Rs 99,999 and Rs 1.29 lakh, respectively, after FAME 2 subsidy, Aggarwal said. With states’ additional subsidies, prices in Delhi could be at Rs 85,000 or as low as Rs 75,000 in Gujarat.

“In 90% of the states, the cost of our electric scooter will be cheaper than the existing petrol variants, and the total cost of ownership over a four-five-year period will be 40-50% lower,” Aggarwal said.

According to him, the company is also looking to enter into electric motorbikes and cars in the due course of time.

Electric two-wheelers were expected to see a faster adaption with a target of 10 lakh scooters by FY22, but it failed to take off due to restrictions in the FAME 2 policy. India in June, however, not only extended the scheme by two years, but also increased incentives under it. Besides, the government is trying to lure domestic and global firms to build Tesla-like gigfactories that make millions of battery cells.

Ola will go head on with existing electric two-wheeler makers such as Ather Energy and Bajaj Auto Ltd.’s Chetak, which is priced at more than Rs 1 lakh. TVS Motor Co. and Hero Electric, however, have cheaper options. India’s largest two-wheeler maker, Hero MotoCorp Ltd., last week said it was eying rollout of scooters by the end of March 2022, and betting on both swapping and fast-charging technology for its electric journey.

Ola’s S1 Pro has a range of 181 km, while 121 km for Ola S1. Ola electric scooters have the biggest battery size among peers at 3.97 Kwh. Its closes competitor Ather’s top variant has a battery size of 2.9 Kwh.

Ola Electric Scooter’s Other Specs

  • Keyless entry with proximity lock where scooter can be unlocked via phone or via passcode.

  • 7-inch touchscreen displays and the vehicle control unit backed an Octa-core processor, 3 GB of RAM, with connectivity through 4G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

  • Customised vehicle sound experience played out through integrated speakers, via moods option.

  • Hill hold and reverse parking features.

Ola’s vision for launching electric vehicle got a jump-start after it acquired Amsterdam-based smart scooter startup Etergo BV last year. Aggarwal said barring the design similarity, everything has been built ground-up by its team in Bengaluru.

Ola, he said, has designed, engineered, and manufactured its own battery pack, motor, vehicle computer and software, and is more than 90% localised. It’s only the cells the company is importing for Korea.

The startup backed by SoftBank Group Corp. and Tiger Global Management said its system would take 36 minutes for 100% charge at a fast charger, while 6-7 hours when done at home.

Sufficient charging infrastructure is crucial to accelerate India’s electric-vehicle adoption that has so far lagged China and Europe. Ola, with more than 1 lakh pre-bookings from over 1,000 cities, said it would set up charging across the key demand markets by October. It, however, didn’t reveal details.

The chargers will be located in city centers, business districts, office towers and other crowded areas.

Ola claimed to be building the world’s biggest scooter factory with a total capacity of 1 crore scooters annually. As part of its phase 1 strategy, the company said 10-lakh capacity was ready and another 10 lakh would be ready in a few months.

While the chip shortage has impacted the company, Aggarwal said the firm has been able to stay largely on track. Ola will start retail of its scooters in India. It’s also eying Latin America, Europe, Asean countries, in the first part of its international expansion plan, and China in the next phase.

Also read: Hero Electric Sees 20% Of Gas-Guzzling Scooters To Be Battery-Powered By 2026

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