ola: Ola’s dream of world’s biggest e-scooter factory hits a hurdle

Ola Electric Mobility Pvt., Indian Startup Committed to Building tram earlier this month, produced a handful of brightly colored bicycles, complete with drummers and a saxophonist to mark the event. Founder Bhavish Aggarwal came to thank about 100 customers who brought family and friends.
But aside from the colorful procedures, Ola doesn’t live up to her lofty ambitions. Mass production of its e-scooters will likely be delayed until at least January, according to people familiar with the firm’s operations, according to people familiar with the firm’s operations. requested anonymity because the information is not made public.
The Bengaluru-based unicorn company, which has delayed initial deliveries to mid-December from October, has pledged to complete remaining orders by February. But people familiar with the matter said Ola, was considered as serious competitors is SoftBank Group Corp. and Tiger Global Management LLC are backers, struggling to iron out production wrinkles and can only produce 150 pieces a day – a slow pace given the on-time delivery of 90,000 orders without Aggarwal said they received it. Residents said the company’s body shop is operating at half capacity and its paint shop is idle.
Struggling with a global chip shortage and what analysts call an overreliance on imported components, Ola Electric’s woes are a microcosm of the challenges faced by the automotive industry India’s autos will have to face the transition to electric vehicles.
They also highlight the obstacles India, the world’s third-largest emitter, may face as it strives to become net carbon-free by 2070. Ola Electric’s capabilities are worth more $5 billion in a recent fundraising round, which will live up to its promise will also rub off with parent company ANI Technologies Pvt. as it prepares to attract investors ahead of a planned initial public offering in Mumbai next year.
Customers waiting for their car have voiced their displeasure. When Ola started taking orders in September, they said deliveries would begin in October, then be pushed to November and then December 15.
Many disgruntled customers – some of whom paid the full 99,999 rupees ($1,323) in advance – took to social media.

The company’s manufacturing division is “working with automated welding lines, battery lines and general assembly lines and an installed paint shop,” marketing director Varun Dubey said by email. “We had a minimum delay of two to four weeks instead of much longer delays (several months and up to a year) commonly seen in the industry,” he added. is due to a global shortage of semiconductors, making it difficult for carmakers. globally.
Ola Electric declined to share its production numbers, citing secrecy.
Aggarwal, 36, said at a Reuters Next conference earlier this month it was “an unpredictable beast for people.
Anthony de Ruijter, a senior associate at UK-based global investment research firm Third Bridge Group, said: “It’s never going to be a great look at anyone if you have the opportunity. Consumer base dissatisfaction with delivery schedules will be a problem for the sector, not just Ola Electric. ”
According to Ruijter, India is still very dependent on the import and assembly model, not only within the Ola ecosystem but also among car manufacturers in general. This creates too many factors that a manufacturer cannot control, he says, and often results in a product that is not customized for the local market.
Important component
India currently imports about 70 percent of electric vehicle parts from China, a situation that deprives local automakers of the reliable and indigenous supply chains that are crucial to the production of electric vehicles. series.
That has helped keep electric vehicles in the country from 1% of total auto sales annually, compared with 30% in some parts of China. However, the need for cleaner transport solutions is urgent: New Delhi battled with the world’s most toxic air last month and according to World Bank It is estimated that such pollution is costing the South Asian country 8.5% of its gross domestic product.
People familiar with Ola’s predicament said that because Ola’s in-house paint shop isn’t up yet, the scooters are being shipped to a factory near Chennai owned by Seoyon E-Hwa Co., South Korea. Country.
Representatives at the Seoyon E-Hwa plant did not respond to phone calls seeking comment. Ola Electric Chief Marketing Officer Dubey said the company works with multiple suppliers across the entire value chain and declined to comment on any of them.
Some of the testers who rode the e-scooter in November found it to be less than satisfactory.
Pradeep M, a YouTuber specializing in car reviews on the video-sharing platform, tested driving Ola’s e-scooter for about five kilometers (three miles) in Bengaluru last month. He said in an interview with Bloomberg News that some of the vehicles slowed down and eventually came to a complete stop when accelerated to a top speed of 115 km/h.
Software problem
While Pradeep said India’s hot climate requires an adequate engine cooling system and without an engine cooling system the engine would not run efficiently, Ola Electric denied there was any problem. around the scooter engine overheating. “We made the scooter beta software available during media testing” so some scooters had some software tweaks, Dubey said. “These were fixed in the final version that was released for customer shipping.”
Pradeep, who has a Ola e-scooter on order and owns another e-bike from rival Ather Energy Pvt., also said the Ola e-scooter uses a horizontal suspension at the rear to make room for the trunk. But the vertical suspension is better able to absorb shocks from bumpy runways.
A spokesperson for Ola Electric said in an emailed response, adding that their scooter’s suspension is “industry leading”. and ride on one of the larger tyres.
According to Pradeep, other features such as foothill hold, are used to keep the rider stationary on a slippery slope. Those functions are not present in the scooters delivered earlier this month. Ola Electric says some features are still being added and will be updated even while the vehicle is in use – a standard practice “like most technology products”.
Meeting at 2 a.m
People familiar with the matter said the pressure to hit the delivery target was weighing heavily on Ola’s top leadership as Aggarwal held meetings as early as 2 a.m.
Chief Financial Officer Swayam Saurabh and chief executive officer Gaurav Porwal have resigned, along with general counsel Sandeep Chowdhury, Hindu Business Line reported in November. The company did not respond to media reports on at that moment. Ola’s chief quality assurance officer Joseph Thomas also left last month, Money Control reported. The four executives did not immediately respond to requests for comment made on LinkedIn.
“Extraordinary results require irrational efforts,” says Dubey, adding that Ola is trying to create products that change the industry. “That takes a lot of effort.”
Ola’s rivals, meanwhile, are getting stronger. Hero MotoCorp Ltd., the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, plans to launch its first e-scooter in March, while Bajaj Auto Ltd., an auto-rickshaw maker has based in Pune, is planning to start delivering its Chetak electric vehicles in the second quarter of next year.
According to BNEF’s Kareer, the Indian auto industry is in a period of transformation led mainly by startups and OEMs without decades of experience in the electric vehicle market.
“Ola will be spared its delays if it delivers a high-quality, high-value product soon,” she said.


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