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LONG WAIT

Ola hasn’t delivered a single electric scooter three months after its launch

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  • Niharika Sharma
By Niharika Sharma

Reporter

Published

It’s been around four months since Ola Electric began taking bookings for its electric scooter and three since the vehicle was launched. There is, however, no sign of deliveries yet.

The Bengaluru-based company has been saying it will bring out the first batch “soon” but hasn’t specified a date.

Founder Bhavish Aggarwal recently posted a video of the vehicle on social media, once again promising deliveries soon after test rides are completed.

Will the delay in deliveries impact Ola’s sales?

In July, Softbank-backed Ola Electric opened pre-launch bookings of its e-scooters for 499 rupees ($6.73); on Aug. 15, it launched the vehicle.

With a relatively affordable price tag of Rs1 lakh, Ola’s product became an instant hit when sales went live in September. The company claimed to have sold units worth Rs600 crore within a day, which, according to CEO Aggarwal, is almost four scooters every second.

Industry experts believe such excitement for the vehicle won’t be affected by any delay.

“Ola’s customers are said to be early adopters of this EV revolution. They are tech-savvy and that’s why they are trusting an IT company for a vehicle,” said Rohit Sharma, director of engineering at automotive product design firm JD Concord Design Solution.

“An electric scooter is not their first or only vehicle. So waiting for delivery shouldn’t dent the momentum.”

Sharma’s assumptions are based on the fact that customers haven’t been too bothered over the company not disclosing sales figures or even the estimated time to fulfil all orders.

Ola Electric, meanwhile, is looking to build on this enthusiasm to seek bookings for S1, a variant of its e-scooter, which will go live on Dec. 16.

What is working in Ola’s favour?

Even before launch, Ola Electric had “created a buzz” around its e-scooter with a massive production plan, Bakar Sadik Agwan, senior automotive analyst at London-based data analytics firm GlobalData, had earlier told Quartz.

Located in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, its FutureFactory will be the world’s largest scooter manufacturing facility with ten production lines. It is expected to roll out one e-scooter every two seconds, putting the annual output at 10 million units—around 15% of the current global two-wheeler production capacity.

Besides, what Ola is bringing to the table is much more than what a traditional vehicle maker could ever do in a country like India, say analysts.

“Being an IT company, entering into EV manufacturing will let Ola become a trendsetter in many domains which were ignored by conventional manufacturing industries earlier,” explained Sharma of Concord design.

“These include integration of technology to machines, software updates, and, more importantly, mobile-based interface, similar to what Tesla is already doing in the four-wheeler market in developed countries.”

The road ahead for Ola’s S1 and S1 pro

Ola’s entry seems to have dovetailed beautifully with the boom in India’s electric two-wheeler segment. With fuel prices hitting unprecedented levels—and still rising—customer interest has also revived.

Yet, EVs still constitute only 1% of the total two-wheeler sales in India. In 2020, only 150,000 electric scooters and bikes were sold in India.

This is mainly due to the price factor.

Experts, however, estimate that the segment will grow to over a million units by the end of 2025, thanks to government incentives and e-commerce companies’ efforts at climate-friendly deliveries.

Several companies, besides Ola, have lined up to ride the coming boom.

For instance, Hero MotoCorp, the world’s largest two-wheeler maker, has a model in the offing. Two-wheeler major Honda Motorcycle is reportedly gearing up to make its debut in the segment as early as next fiscal. Then there are serious contenders among startups like Ather and Simple Energy, too.

Ola Electric, despite its advantage of numbers, may not have it easy after all. This strong buzz in its favour, even without delivering a single unit, is a good place to flag off the mission, though.

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