Even though the fact that India needs electric vehicles to reduce vehicular pollution and to make commutation easier, the adoption of non-ICE vehicles is not up to the mark. As we approach the federal government’s ambitious plan to phase out ICE-powered vehicles by 2030, buyers have little choice when it comes to buying electric vehicles.
Though of late, the market of electric 2-wheelers is shifting gears and we have seen various brands like Bajaj, Okinawa, Ather Electric, Kabira Motors and others launching their electric scooters. Yet here is still a massive space for an ambitious player that can help democratize these zero-pollution vehicles.
Ola, the desi ride-hailing company, wants to do what Tesla has done in electric cars but India. The company had announced its plans of not only launching a world-class electric scooter in India but had also announced that it plans to set up a mega-factory to mass-produce these vehicles.
Ola Electric, the EV arm of Ola Group, has set up this factory in Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu. Phase 1 of this 500-acre factory is expected to be production-ready by June 2021 and according (opens in new tab) to the company it will be able to produce 2 million scooters a year. Though at full capacity, Ola plans to be able to roll out a scooter every 2 seconds or 10 million scooters per year.
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With this, the company also announced its global dreams by stating that it wants to export these scooters to various parts of the world. This augurs well with the company’s ambitious plan of becoming a leading 2-wheeler company globally with a targeted 15% market share.
“Our ambition is to have a big impact in electric vehicles. The only way we can create an impact in electrification is by playing at scale. This business cannot be built by selling 2,000 vehicles a year,” Bhavish Aggarwal, chairman and group chief executive officer told the media.
Further, Ola also wants to take on the likes of Tesla, Triton and other electric car makers by launching its electric car soon. This again, according to Aggarwal, would be an affordable electric car aimed at the mass market.
Ola Electric Scooter : Design and features
The company also revealed that it's first offering for India would be a made-in-India version of Etergo Appscooter. To recall, Ola acquired the Dutch electric scooter company Etergo in May last year and no prizes for guessing that the Ola electric scooter resembles the Etergo Appscooter.
The Indianized-avatar of the Appscooter is expected to retain most of the key features of the original one. The biggest one of them is the swappable batteries that you can charge at your home and the scooter, unlike most electric scooters in India currently, do not need a dedicated charging station.
It comes with an option to add three high energy density battery packs at one time, each offering a range of 80-km with a full charge. The total range of up to 240Kms of range with all three battery packs combined should ideally ease out all the range anxieties that users often have with electric scooters. Also, each of these batteries can be fully charged in 2.3 hours using a regular electric socket at your home. You can get an acceleration of 0-45kph in 3.9 seconds
This is a connected scooter and comes with a pre-mounted TFT panel for apps and navigation. On the software front, it comes with Android OS built-in that powers the digital dashboard and offers features like navigation, music, phone control, and automatic diagnostics. There are two 10W speakers as well as built-in to provide audio output.
Other key features include the support for iOS powered devices, remote lock/unlock, find my scooter, charging control and GPS for location tracking. In terms of connectivity, it comes with 4G (LTE), 3G, GPRS, WiFi, Bluetooth.
Ola Electric Scooter’s price in India
Apart from the features, the most important aspect of the scooter would be its pricing. The company has, as of now, not revealed the pricing of its scooter, however, the Appscooter was pegged at 3,399 euros which roughly translates to just over Rs 296,000 as of today. This would however mean that the scooter will be out of the reach of most users and will be against what Ola is hoping for as well.
Hence, the company may introduce multiple variants based on the features which could help in bringing down the cost as well. Since Ola wants this to be a mass-market vehicle, it has to price the scooter aggressively.
Bringing down the cost will not only help faster adoption but will help the company undercut the competition like Ather, Bajaj and others that are all priced well over 1 lac Rupees and are considered to be in the premium at the moment.
India’s dream electric scooter
As of now, India needs a zero-emission two-wheeler that looks like most conventional scooters available at the moment. Most importantly, for faster adoption, companies need to bring a scooter that attracts the common buyers rather than pushing them away by packing in loads of geeky features that the users cannot relate to.
In other words, users look for a scooter that is stylish but doesn’t make them look out of the place and does the basic job of helping them to commute from one place to the other without fancy features like application control, GPS tracking etc.
Last but not the least, the pricing of these electric scooters need to come down to “affordable” from premium. An electric scooter priced around Rs. 60-70,000 without too many fancy features or limitations could be a sweet spot and can be pivotal in phasing out petrol variants.
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