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Can Ola's Electric Scooters Give a Lift to India's EV Revolution?

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In just two days, Ola Electric clocked a sale of over Rs.1,100 crore worth of electric scooters that bagged Rs.600 crores in the first day and sold four scooters every second in the first 24 hours. What started in 2011, Ola had already made its debut in one of the world’s largest ride-hailing markets and had eventually grown into a competitive force, way before Uber came to India. Ola continued feasting on a large portion of the market, it suddenly hiccuped with the blow of the COVID-19 pandemic that wreaked havoc into the country’s economy. During its attempts to get back on track into the industry, the company’s CEO, came up with another idea into India’s emerging electric vehicle (EV) industry and that is, Ola Electric.

Since then the company has been stepping its engine and built what is touted as the world’s largest electric two-wheeler factory. In the tiny hamlet of Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu, the company is also building a Rs 2,400 crore plant with a production capacity of 10 million automobiles per year. Ola's move to electric comes at a time when fuel prices, notably for gasoline, which is used by the majority of scooters and two-wheelers in the country, have reached new highs, besides launching the first two of its electric two-wheelers, the Ola S1 and Ola S1 Pro. For the last two years, the electric scooters have become the talk in town, on whether it could drive the country’s EV revolution.

What the Scooters Offer to the Customers
To begin with, this vehicle can start with an app-based key. Ola's EV manufacturing unit, Ola electric, bought Etergo from the Netherlands last year, therefore, the Ola's electric scooter is based on the latter's design and is believed to resemble it virtually identically.

“Ola has already created a buzz in the Indian market with its ‘Future Factory’ and its production plans,” said Bakar Sadik Agwan, senior automotive analyst at London-based data analytics firm GlobalData. “With regards to technical specifications of its upcoming products, Ola is likely to offer best-in-segment features and is well-positioned to create a niche in the Indian market.”

In terms of design, the e-scooters feature a low profile. They have a striking look thanks to the twin headlamp cluster, which is surrounded by LED DRLs. The company claims that the seating is ergonomic, and that it has superior cornering and 'class-leading acceleration.'

The vehicle is believed to be equipped with disc brakes at both the front and rear wheels for added safety. A combined braking system or ABS may be available for improved handling.

The electric vehicle's suspension will be handled by telescopic forks on the front end and a horizontally mounted shock absorber on the back end.

What the Scooters Offer to India’s EV Revolution
The electric scooter has become the most talked-about product in India's high-volume two-wheeler sector thanks to Ola Electric.

The spotlight on e-scooters is due to at least two factors. The ESG (environment, sustainability, and governance) regulations, which focus on the environment and emissions, have attracted a lot of interest. The second is Ola's massive goals, which border on the audacious considering its promises of a 10 million-unit capacity.

“Ola has already created a buzz in the Indian market with its ‘Future Factory’ and its production plans,” said Bakar Sadik Agwan, senior automotive analyst at London-based data analytics firm GlobalData. “With regards to technical specifications of its upcoming products, Ola is likely to offer best-in-segment features and is well-positioned to create a niche in the Indian market.”

The Sales Say it All
Ola Electric, the new kid on the block, has sold 3.9k units. This amount was 1,102 units in January 2022. Ather Energy reported sales of 2,230 units, which is even higher. Sales have increased from 626 units in the previous year. In January of this year, sales were reported to be little under 1.9 thousand units. Ola's CEO remarked that their delivery rate is currently far greater than the VAHAN portal reports. According to Ola, their delivery in February 2022 was close to 7k units, and they are preparing to deliver roughly 15k units in March. If that happens, they will be the country's most popular electric two-wheeler.

The scooters can be charged at home using any 5A plug or through the Ola Electric Charging Network, which is currently available in over 100 cities across India, according to the company. Given that EV adoption in India has been slow due to a lack of charging infrastructure, this is an essential consideration.

Customers say that the scooter is ‘competitively priced’. That might be a crucial element in determining the vehicle's performance in a price-sensitive market like India. Affordable pricing, according to industry experts, is critical to remaining a market leader and maintaining pre-booking momentum.

Let’s Hear it from the Customers
“Got an opportunity to get the detailed information and test ride today. It is truly a revolution. Hyper mode is having lots of power to handle. Better than any fossil fuel scooter in the market. Now Ola is going to eat OATS (BTR).” A user named Chintan Bhatt suggested potential buyers to not wait for the test ride and make the full payment if they have the link to get faster deliveries”.

“Test rode the @OlaElectric S1 Pro today in Gurgaon. One word: Amazed. By the performance and value for the money!”.

“Awesome scooter it is! I had a test ride just now. Don't wait for the test ride guys go and do full payment if you got the link. So you'll get delivery fast. Believe me, you'll not regret doing the full payment before the test ride. There are various inroads paving way for India’s EV revolution”.

The scooters had a sophisticated, high-tech design when they were first released, but now they are hearing more and more concerns from early customers about quality difficulties.

A Twitter user described how his S1 Pro's brakes failed after only 6 km (4 miles) of riding. He had to have it hauled to a shop, where a new brake caliper and headlight were installed.

Owner Rahul Prasadh turned to Twitter to publish photos of the seat and grab bar interfering with the body panels, which he alleges is a design fault. Both the test ride scooters previously made available to reservation holders and his personal electric scooter had damage in that location, according to his images. Ola responded to the owner in this situation as well, confirming that a new scooter will be delivered. On the other hand, the company did not address what appears to be a systematic design flaw with the grab handle.

Other customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the charging process. When leaving a scooter to charge overnight, one scooter has reportedly experienced random interruptions in charging. The owner was able to resolve the issue by power cycling the charger and the scooter both times it occurred, and feels it is a software issue that will be addressed in a future update.

He still seems quite positive about the scooter, replying to a critical comment, “these are software issues and will be fixed in an update… Still it’s a good scooter buddy, if something is fixed with an restart then it’s just software issues.”

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