In an attempt to win the favour of its investor, SoftBank, Ola announced its plan to bring 1 million electric vehicles to Indian roads by 2021. This initiative would begin with the on-boarding of 10,000 electric autorickshaws across the country in the next 12 months.
This announcement comes a year after the launch of its pilot programme in Nagpur. Ola, in partnership with Mahindra & Mahindra, created the programme to build a mass mobility ecosystem. After the launch of the pilot programme, there have also been talks to expand the programme to three more Indian cities.
‘Mission: Electric’, Ola’s newest initiative, is based on the company’s vision that electric vehicles will not only be eco-friendly but will also have a positive impact on drivers and customers—in addition to benefitting the company’s overall business model. Ola plans to work with driver-partners, vehicle-manufacturers and battery companies to find ways to make renewable energy resources cost-effective and more feasible for everyday mobility.
The company plans to launch electric autorickshaws first because manufacturing electric cars is far more expensive. This aspect, in combination with the fact that electric cars require long charging hours and can only carry out shorter trips, has prompted Ola to delay the launch of electric cars. Autorickshaws, on the other hand, would require technology that is comparatively less expensive since they serve shorter trips. Ola hired Chinam Netaji Patro as Senior Director for electric vehicles back in January for the same purpose.
CEO and Co-founder of Ola, Bhavish Aggarwal, stated that autorickshaws are a “vital means of transportation and a source of livelihood for millions of people every day.” He also stated that this mission represents an opportunity that would benefit stakeholders as well as reduce pollution across Indian towns and cities.
Ola’s announcement plays right into the vision of SoftBank, which has also invested in India’s renewable energy space. Masayoshi Son, SoftBank’s group chairman, had previously stated that he would like to gift India with 1 million electric cars. Softbank is also the key investor in Ola’s rival company, Uber.