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Ola Electric scooter launched: Founder Bhavish Aggarwal calls it the best ever made

The Bhavish Aggarwal-led firm, spun off from ride-hailing firm Ola, is setting up a 500-acre factory in Tamil Nadu's Krishnagiri, with an aim to make 10 million vehicles a year at full capacity- making it the world's largest two-wheeler factory.

August 15, 2021 / 04:51 PM IST
OLA Electric founder Bhavish Aggarwal has claimed that the per kilometer running costs of the scooters will be roughly 1/3rd of 1/4 th of that of a petrol-powered scooter.

OLA Electric founder Bhavish Aggarwal has claimed that the per kilometer running costs of the scooters will be roughly 1/3rd of 1/4 th of that of a petrol-powered scooter.


Ola Electric's much-anticipated electric scooter, S1, has finally launched on 15th August, coinciding with India's Independence Day, a larger message that its founder Bhavish Aggarwal wants to drive home on building in India for the world.


Launched at a price of Rs 99,999 for the entry-level S1 model and Rs 1,29,999 for the more powerful and long-range S1 Pro, the latter featuring, according to Aggarwal, the biggest battery found on an electric scooter.


"This is the best scooter ever made and the most vibrant", Aggarwal asserted, as he unveiled details on price and performance.


The Bhavish Aggarwal-led firm, spun off from ride-hailing firm Ola, is setting up a 500-acre factory in Tamil Nadu's Krishnagiri, with an aim to make 10 million vehicles a year at full capacity- making it the world's largest two-wheeler factory.


Aggarwal said this would be the largest building in India when completed, huge enough to fit Delhi and Mumbai airports and at least 150 Olympic size swimming pools.


"We bought the land in January, did the Bhumi Poojan in Feb and laid the first pillar in April. We have already built a third so far. We said we would have 2 million in phase 1 and we have are at 1 million," he said.


The 10 production lines at full capacity are expected to crank out 1 scooter every 2 seconds at full capacity. It is investing Rs 2,400 crore in the plant and will create 10,000 jobs.


Read: Ola's Bhavish Aggarwal looks to disrupt India's EV market by mass producing vehicles


It is also building most of the facilities in-house.


Ola Electric also plans to invest $2 Billion over the next five years along with its partners to set up more than 1 lakh charging stations across 400 cities.  Lack of charging stations is currently one of the biggest hindrances to mainstream EV usage in India.


While Aggarwal did not specify the number of charging stations already built, he said that they may have to set up more than the planned 5,000 charging points across 100 cities in India.


Read:  Ola Electric to set up 1 lakh charging stations in 5 years, to invest $2 billion with partners


It is also setting up physical experience centres over the next 2-3 months, giving an option to consumers to either order online or offline. Those who have made pre-bookings, will be able to pay the full amount on September 8th, with deliveries scheduled in October 2021.


Ola Electric recently opened reservations for its electric scooter for a refundable deposit of Rs 499, with its bookings already crossing 1 lakh


Also Read: Ola Electric scooter buyers to get home delivery across India


Aggarwal said the company is pulling out all stops to ensure it can meet these commitments, even as the auto industry grapples with an acute shortage in semiconductor chips.


"India will deal with this for the next 6-9 months. We are actively managing the situation. There has been huge anticipation and demand for the Ola scooter", he said.


While rivals such as Hero MotoCorp are adopting a 2-pronged strategy to charging- with plans to make scooters with either fast-charging or battery-swapping, Aggarwal described swapping 'as the worst', something that is not only viable in India but will also increase the cost of a vehicle by Rs 20,000.


When asked about his rival's 2-pronged approach, Aggarwal said, "Strategy is also about making choices."


Interestingly, while Hero MotoCorp owns a 37% stake in EV maker Ather Energy, its promoter Pawan Munjal is an investor in Ola in his personal capacity.


Aggarwal, who recently urged Tesla founder Elon Musk to build and not just import in India, threw down the gauntlet yet again, stating that he 'welcomes that gentleman to India but he should invest in India.'


"We will welcome and beat competition. The government has been more supportive. Entrepreneurs have to run with the opportunity" he said.


Ola Electric intends to export the scooters all over the world in due time, earmarking not only South Asian, African and South American markets but also Europe and the US, where demand for lightweight, zero-emission transport appears to be increasing. Aggarwal also stated that China, which has had a head start in the electric two-wheeler space, “isn’t an immediate priority”.


It recently raised $100 million in long term debt from Bank of Baroda to close the first phase of development of its factory.


"I envisage big investments. People think start-up is equal to cash burn. It is about innovation and speed. We will make money before people realise it, the business model is sound."


He added that it will be one of the world's most efficient automakers.

Ola Electric is valued at over a billion dollars, with the backing of investors such as Matrix Partners, Tiger Global Management and SoftBank, among others. Ola’s core ride-hailing unit is also planning to list on stock exchanges soon, for which it raised $500 million from Warburg Pincus and Temasek, giving early backers Tiger and Matrix a part exit from their stake in the company too.

Chandra R Srikanth is Editor- Tech, Startups, and New Economy
Parth Charan is a Mumbai-based writer who’s written extensively on cars for over seven years.

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