Ola, the leading ride-hailing startup, has announced plans to expand its electric vehicle offerings in the country. The ride-hailing company announced Mission: Electric where it is committing to add 10,000 E-rickshaws and Electric auto-rickshaws on its service in the next 12 months.
The company has also announced a bold ambition to have 1 million Electric Vehicles on the road by 2021 with Mission: Electric serving as the platform. Ola says in order to electrify vehicles on its networks it will work with driver partners, cities, vehicle manufacturers and battery companies to “make sustainable technologies cost-effective and viable in daily mobility.” Ola is one of the most vocal purveyors of electric mobility in the country.
Ola has already launched its first electric vehicle project as a part of a pilot in Nagpur on May 26 last year. As part of the initiative, the company rolled out electric vehicles made by Mahindra’s Reva unit. The project was inaugurated by Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping. The project includes electric cabs, electric auto rickshaws, electric buses, rooftop solar installations, charging stations and battery swapping experiments.
“Three wheelers are a vital means of transportation and a source of livelihood for millions of people every day. It also represents an immediate opportunity to improve outcomes for all stakeholders while reducing pollution across towns and cities,” said Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-Founder and CEO of Ola.
Ola says the EV program in Nagpur has translated to more than 4 million electric kilometers traveled and has provided the ride-hailing company with valuable insights. It says the program has delivered knowledge into effectively managing vehicles, batteries and operations. In order to fast track the progress, Ola says it is in discussion with several state governments to create policy environment to deploy electric three wheeler. It plans to add 10,000 vehicles across three cities this year, transforming Ola into one of the largest EV fleet operators in the world.
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Ola is just one of the big names in the transportation sector planning to electrify its network of vehicles. Major automobile manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, BMW and Volkswagen have also started projects to fully electrify their offerings by 2021. While Ola is being ambitious here, it is discounting the fact that its driver partners have not really been happy with the Nagpur pilot test.
Most drivers complain that the EVs provided as part of the pilot test run out of battery sooner and take relatively long time for recharging the batteries. They complain that the time spent charging their vehicles is resulting in loss of business. In a statement, Ola says it is planning to tackle these issues with new techniques like faster charging and battery swapping experiments. It is a known fact that future of mobility is electric and both automotive companies and ride-hailing services need to prepare themselves for the forthcoming change.