Ola To Spend $2 Billion On Charging Network That It Doesn’t Want To Share
A charging plug is connected to an electric scooter. (Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg)  

Ola To Spend $2 Billion On Charging Network That It Doesn’t Want To Share

Ola Electric Mobility Pvt. plans to set up the world’s largest, densest charging network for electric two-wheelers but won’t share it with other battery-powered vehicle makers.

Ola will invest around $2 billion in the next five years to build the Hypercharger Network, comprising high-speed 1,00,000 charging points in 400 cities, Bhavish Aggarwal, chairman and group chief executive officer at the online cab aggregator, said in response to BloombergQuint’s query during a media conference.

But “just like Tesla has its own proprietary charging infrastructure, we are building our own... It [charging network] will not be open to all and will be only for our (Ola) customers. It’s a conscious strategic choice, and a right choice for our consumers. It will enable competitive ecosystem to come up with their own charging networks,” Aggarwal said.

At the end of the day it’s a business, and our business strategy is we want to gain adoption for our vehicles, and seamless experience that we offer will help us to scale it up.
Bhavish Aggarwal, Chairman & Group CEO, Ola

India has been trying to push battery-powered transport in an effort to wean away people from old cars and two-wheelers to make the air cleaner in a country, which according to Swiss organisation IQAir, houses 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities. Sufficient charging infrastructure is crucial to accelerate electric-vehicle adoption in India, which has lagged far behind the U.S., China and Europe.

In the first year alone, Ola is looking to set up 5,000 charging points across 100 cities in India, Aggarwal said. The new charging network will be found in city centers and dense business districts as standalone towers as well as in popular locations such as malls, IT parks, office complexes, and cafes.

“Vertical stations will be set up in the first 50 key cities,” Aggarwal said, without specifying details on cost and size of such stations.

An Ola vertical station. (Photo: Ola)
An Ola vertical station. (Photo: Ola)

Still, Maxson Lewis, managing director at Magenta Pvt.—a startup that develops and makes EV charging stations—doesn’t think it’s a right model, and said this strategy would only work if Ola can do it in volumes. “Even Tesla in Europe is an open network. It’s a very isolated view of charging infrastructure and with time they might learn that only a dedicated charging network doesn’t really work out,” Lewis told BloombergQuint over the phone.

Ola said it would also partner oil marketing companies and office complexes to set up the charging network across the country.

This also comes at a time Ola is gearing up for the launch of its first electric scooter from its massive Bengaluru factory this summer. Aggarwal said the new Ola scooter can be charged 50% in 18 minutes for a 75 km range. The scooters will also be bundled with home-charging kits.

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