After the success of its auto-rickshaws fleet in Bengaluru and Chennai, Ola is planning to enter into the market of manufacturing Electric Auto-rickshaws with the “right partners”.
An Ola spokesperson said, “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.”
Patro drove the research and development (R&D) of electrical and electronics at Bajaj Auto and has spent nearly two decades with India’s largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki. The spokesperson further added that Patro will also look at technologies and partnerships across the board beyond the electric three-wheelers.
An email sent to Ola did not elicit any response till the time of publication.
Ola: The Push Into The Electric Vehicle Space
The reports of Ola entering into the Electric Vehicle segment appeared first in May 2017 when Softbank showed its inclination towards pushing the cab aggregator into electric car manufacturing. The idea was to transition Ola’s current cab-aggregator model into an electric car manufacturing company, working in partnership with global carmaker, Toyota.
Ola took a step ahead in this direction, with the launch of the country’s first electric vehicle charging station in Nagpur, in collaboration with state-run Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). Under the project, a fleet of 200 electric-powered public transport vehicles would be run on Ola’s app platform in Nagpur. The vehicles would include e-cars, e-buses, e-autos, and e-rickshaws, for public transport.
While Mahindra Motors would supply 100 e2O Plus electric vehicles, the remaining 100 vehicles are being deployed by Tata Motors, Kinetic, the Chinese electric vehicle maker Build Your Dreams (BYD), and TVS, among others.
In December 2016, it was also reported that Ola might deploy a million electric vehicles in the next five years in partnership with a carmaker and the Government of India.
The Indian auto-rickshaw market so far has players such as Bajaj Auto, TVS, Mahindra and Piaggio, but with their main focus on the goods carrying segment, and other players building passenger three-wheelers on small scale, there’s no big force in the consumer electric three-wheeler space yet.
Recently, Ola’s arch-rival Uber re-introduced auto-rickshaw bookings on its platform. Considering that Softbank is also now an investor in Uber, in long run, the chances of pushing both the companies towards a common goal cannot be ignored.
Ola is currently present in 102 Indian cities and has more than 5,00,000 vehicles running on its platform, wherein auto rickshaws form a major segment. With Indian government also pushing aggressively towards the vision of becoming an all-electric vehicle nation by 2030, Ola’s venture into electric vehicle space can certainly open new avenues of growth for the cab aggregator in the coming years.