Ola’s website problems stalled its electric scooter plans

Waiting in the wings.
Waiting in the wings.
Image: Ola Electric
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One of India’s biggest tech unicorns ran into tech trouble minutes before a big launch.

Ride-hailing giant Ola was meant to offer its much-hyped electric scooter for sale on Sept. 8 at 6pm. But things did not go according to plan for the company’s first-ever manufactured product. The Ola Electric Twitter handle announced that sales would instead go live at 9pm.

By the time 9pm rolled around, there was still nothing—until CEO Bhavish Aggarwal apologized on Twitter for the delay and pushed the launch date back a week to Sept. 15.

“Unfortunately we have had many technical difficulties in making our website for purchases live today,” he wrote. The company has apparently built a “completely digital purchase journey, including a fully digital loan process without any paperwork,” he added. But it wasn’t able to deliver in time.

ola electric statement
Image: Twitter/Bhavish Aggarwal

Pre-bookings for the scooter, first seen on Aug. 15, opened a month prior on July 15. Within 24 hours, 100,000 Indians had reserved their spot in the queue with a refundable 500 rupees ($6.78) fee. Hundreds of thousands of others, too, have added their names to the growing list of hopefuls since. (The exact number of pre-bookings is not known.)

A bumpy road ahead for Ola’s Electric Scooter?

The $5 billion company waiting till the last second to push back the launch irked many expectant buyers, but the delay wasn’t their only complaint.

One person wrote that the website lagged and had a “good-for-nothing” interface. Scores of users trying the website also noticed another substantial discrepancy: The price tag for the S1 variant was upwards of Rs1.35 lakh ($1,840)—significantly higher than the Rs99,000 ($1,350) Ola promised.

Others are concerned about whether the website issues signal the company will waver on its delivery timelines, too. “I hope this is not the same language you speak after I book. Don’t say “it’s worth the wait so wait some more months”. This shows how unprofessional the team is, just saying,” another tweet read.