Ola is reportedly betting big on two and three-wheelers for its electric mobility drive. In fact, the company is expected on deploying 10,000 electric vehicles (EVs), a mix of two and three-wheelers, in India by March 2020. A PTI report claims that, according to a senior company official, the company believes that mass scale adoption of four-wheeler electric vehicles will take some more time. It was a lesson that the company learnt from Ola and Mahindra's 2017 joint pilot project in Nagpur, for which the former had partnered with the leading SUV maker for a multi-modal electric mass mobility project. It showed Ola that right now "four-wheelers are not yet ready" for such usage in India on a large scale.
Ola Electric Mobility (OEM) co-founder Anand Shah said, "The biggest lesson (from Nagpur) was that, (electric) four-wheelers, are not yet ready. It is going to take a couple of years for the math on four-wheelers to work." According to Ola, right now electric three-wheelers / e-Rickshaws are the largest population of EVs by natural adoption. Further, he said, "We think two-wheelers are also emerging very quickly, partially because of policy and also because of the rising interest in the commercial use of two-wheelers, whether that is in deliveries for our own food business or any of our competitors, e-commerce companies or scooter sharing." In fact, Ola has already started pilots with a fleet of a hundred of three-wheelers in Gurugram. Considering Mahindra has the Treo e-Rickshaw in its fleet now we wouldn't be surprised if Ola and Mahindra come together for a new project.
The company expects to deploy the 10,000 electric vehicles by the end of March 2020 in whichever viable cities/states of the country that are willing to work with it. The possible candidate cities include - Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, AP and Gujarat. All that said, Ola, hasn't given up on it, and is confident that electrification is viable in the long run. In fact, Ola is still actively working on electric four-wheelers as well Shah said, and further told PTI "We are testing electric cars. We have tried every electric car that exists in India today, but we think it's going to take some time for rapid four-wheeler EV adoption at scale."
Talking about the learnings from the Nagpur project, Shah said that they noticed a need for more four-wheeler EVs models because when they started there was only one make of electric car available in the market. He also addressed the need for appropriate battery technology for the Indian conditions and usage along with a proper understanding of infrastructure utilisation to strike a balance between usage of land, power and time of the day. He also talked about electricity cost being a very significant input while mentioning that now the government is beginning to address this.
Talking about investments for electric mobility, Shah said, "We have raised Rs 400 crore from some of our early investors -- Tiger Global Management, Matrix India. That money will be spent on meeting these milestones, on getting the technology right, getting the business model right and we will keep growing from there."