Ola hints at building its own electric four-wheeler for India [Update]

Just months after confirming the first Ola electric scooter, in a surprising revelation, Ola Electric has hinted that it is interested in making an Ola electric ‘car’ as well.

“Our ambition is to be the leader in electric mobility for the small vehicles and small city four-wheelers,” Bhavish Aggarwal, Founder & Chairman, Ola Electric, said last month. Aggarwal was speaking at a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) event. Launching a car in India can be very challenging for a new company, especially one that has no background in building vehicles at all. Electric powertrains have made penetration in the auto industry easier due to technical simplicity, though.

REE modular electric car platform
Ola Electric could partner with an Indian company willing to share its platform & tech, or like with the Ola Electric Scooter, it can acquire a company with tech that is ready for mass production. Pictured is the REE electric skateboard architecture.

By “small city four-wheelers”, Aggarwal could be referring to an Ola electric quadricycle like the Mahindra Atom and the Bajaj Qute instead of a passenger car. The company could partner with an established OEM willing to share its EV platform and powertrain for the same, like Mahindra Electric, for instance. The other route is acquiring a company that has a platform technology ready for mass production. Launching a quadricycle would obviously make more sense for Ola Electric than a car, given their lower cost, easier regulations and lesser complexity in development and manufacturing.

Providing an update on the Ola electric vehicle project this month, LiveMint.com reports that the company plans to build a portfolio of vehicles. Mopeds, motorcycles, three-wheelers and four-wheelers are reported to be in the manufacturing plan of the company that is looking to dominate first and last mile mobility segments in people transport. The company is hiring 2,000 people for its electric vehicle vertical, the newspaper report said.

D2H electric quadricycle designs
Ola Electric could introduce an electric quadricycle on a lightweight EV chassis suited for Indian conditions. Pictured is the D2H electric vehicle intended as a solution for India, Asia & South America and a tuk-tuk alternative.

Meanwhile, the plan to manufacture an Ola electric scooter is set in stone, and Ola Electric is working aggressively on bringing its first two-wheeler into the market. While earlier reports had talked about outsourcing production, recent indications are of in-house production at a new plant. The company is said to be in talks with a number of state governments for acquiring 100 acres of unencumbered land to construct potentially the world’s largest electric scooter plant with a capacity of 2 million vehicles per year. It has hired General Motors veteran Jose Pinheiro to head manufacturing.

Acquiring Dutch scooter company Etergo made launching the Ola electric scooter quicker for Bhavish Aggarwal. The company doesn’t need to develop a new model from scratch and would have to modify the existing Etergo AppScooter to bring down cost and adapt it to local requirements.

The first Ola electric scooter will reportedly debut in February 2021 at a price of around Rs 95,000. The company could offer different ownership models like rent or lease as well, but is reportedly not enabling the swappable battery option in the launch version due to the lack of swapping stations.

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com