Cab aggregator Ola is setting up a team to design electric vehicles (EVs), including cars and auto-rickshaws, reports The Business Standard.
After the success of Ola autos in Chennai and Bengaluru, the company now eyes immediate coverage of electric auto-rickshaws across the country. Uber re-entering the auto-rickshaw segment vindicates Ola's investments in auto-rickshaws, sources told the paper.
Ola is believed to have had plans of manufacturing its own electric car, but called it off because of stiff competition from the existing car majors - Maruti Suzuki, Tata, among others.
Bajaj Auto and TVS are the only two major players in the commuter-auto-rickshaw segment. Mahindra and Piaggio are also a part of this market segment, but their focus is on ferrying goods. As of now, no major firm has entered the electric auto-rickshaw space.
"It makes a lot of business sense for a company like Ola to build its own electric auto, especially since the government is also pushing for electric vehicles. Ola owns the end consumer and their data, and tomorrow they will most probably become the largest consumers of auto-rickshaws anyway," experts told the paper.
Former Bajaj Auto Executive and now Ola's Senior Director (Electric Vehicle) Chinam Netaji Patro will look into e-rickshaws and technologies and partnerships in this segment.
According to the firm's statement, Ola brought him on board because, "Chinam is an auto industry veteran, who brings in deep understanding when it comes to assessing the right technologies for Ola and collaborating with the right partners so as to bring forward India’s EV ecosystem."
Masayoshi Son, the owner of Ola's largest investor SoftBank, dreams of bringing one million EVs to Indian roads, and in pursuing this dream Ola has already started its 'Ola Electric
' initiative in Nagpur where cars have been procured from major car-makers such as Tata and Mahindra&Mahindra