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Exclusive: Ola Electric lets go of quality assurance head, even as scooter delivery faces delay

Joseph Thomas' exit comes at a crucial point for Ola Electric, which is racing against time to deliver scooters to customers.

November 16, 2021 / 03:20 PM IST

Electric two-wheeler maker Ola Electric has let go of its Head of Quality Assurance Joseph Thomas, after hiring him barely a year ago, people familiar with the development said. His exit comes amid delays in its scooter delivery schedule.

Thomas joined Ola from Renault India, where he spent 11 years across functions such as parts programme, management, and corporate quality. Before that, he was with Ford Motor Company for 9 years.

Ola Electric did not respond to queries from Moneycontrol but sources said that Ola is making a senior-level hire for its operations, including safety and quality, at Ola Futurefactory, and consequently, Thomas has been let go.

His exit comes at a crucial point for Ola Electric, which is racing against time to deliver scooters to customers. While it has sold nearly Rs 1,200 crore worth of scooters, it faced heat from customers over the delay in the delivery date of its scooters.

Though customer test rides have kicked off in various cities from November 10, Ola said it will start delivering once that is over.

While some will get it in November, some in December, and the rest in January and February.  The second purchase window, originally scheduled for November 1, will now happen on December 16 for the Ola S1 and S1 Pro.

But as Moneycontrol's review of the scooter showed, the models handed out for review were not finished products but almost production-ready versions running a beta version of Ola’s in-house software.

Varun Dubey, chief marketing officer of Ola Electric Mobility, said that, unlike regular scooters, the Ola S1 and the Ola S1 Pro will only get better with timely over-the-air updates to fine-tune and optimize the software. Make no mistake: this is about as software-heavy as a scooter has ever been.

Certain key features advertised earlier are still a few updates away, including the hill-hold feature (making it easier to start from a stationary position on a slope without rolling back), voice-activated commands, remote unlocking through an app on a phone, playing music through the speakers, and visual moods that alter the sound and layout of the instrument cluster.

Plenty remains to be fine-tuned, along with heat management and battery optimisation. According to Dubey, these updates will be available via a simple download by the time the first batch of customers takes delivery of the scooters later this month.

Ola Electric founder Bhavish Aggarwal is also the founder of ride-hailing app Ola, which has plans to list in the public markets soon. Ola has seen a raft of exits in recent weeks, with its General Counsel the latest to leave, even as it prepares for an IPO.

Chandra R Srikanth
Chandra R Srikanth is Editor- Tech, Startups, and New Economy
first published: Nov 16, 2021 03:03 pm