With more and more Indian automobile manufacturers hopping on the electric vehicle bandwagon and coming up with fantastic new vehicles and initiatives, it is now Ola Electric’s turn to kick up the electrification of mobility in the country several notches. One of India’s largest and most popular ride-hailing companies, Ola divulged its intentions to launch its own electric scooter early this year followed by announcements regarding plans to build a sprawling 500-acre Ola FutureFactory in Tamil Nadu as well as establishing one of the world’s largest hypercharge electric network.
The Bangalore-based company has all the EV enthusiasts of the country on the edges of their seats with the promises that they have made with regard to their electrification initiatives. The Ola Electric scooter, especially, seems particularly promising as it is set to be a premium quality vehicle but without the hefty price tag that such vehicles come with. If the company is able to deliver on its promises, this can significantly boost the adoption of electric two-wheelers across the country.
Let us take a look at the features and specifications that Ola has revealed so far.
For an electric scooter that is intended to be on the lower end of the price spectrum, the Ola electric scooter does offer some pretty impressive specs. With a claimed range of 80 km on a single charge, it beats the Ather 450 which offers a 75 km/charge range. The scooter has a kerb weight of 74 kgs and a maximum torque of 50 Nm, which makes it quite swift and easily manoeuvrable. The 50 Nm motor that powers the vehicle has a continuous output of 3 kW and a peak output of 6 kW, allowing it to speed up from 0 to 45 kmph in just 3.9 seconds.
The scooter is equipped with sturdy 12-inch alloy wheels and disc brakes on either end. It will, of course, have an LED digital instrument cluster complete with Bluetooth connectivity, on-screen navigation, remote locking and unlocking, and geo-fencing with additional support for calling and music playback. Although Ola is yet to reveal the specifications in further detail, this electric two-wheeler will most likely have a non-removable battery pack that, using the aforementioned Hypercharger network, should be able to charge up to 50 percent in 18 minutes.
What Makes the Ola Electric Scooter So Special?
Ola Electric intends to own the entirety of the value chain, starting from engineering and manufacturing to the sale of its electric two-wheeler. This will enable the company to locally source as much as 90% of its materials, which is key in keeping the prices low and affordable. While the company will manufacture its own motors, batteries, charging controllers, and the software that the scooter operates on, the lithium-ion cells, as of now, are to be imported from South Korea.
In order to ensure state-of-the-art engineering, Ola acquired Etergo BV, an Amsterdam-based electric mobility company. The company also appointed Wayne Burgess, who has several years of automotive designing experience up his sleeve, as the head of vehicle design. Ola’s electric scooter is set to be launched not only across Indian markets but also across European markets tentatively around January of 2022. The price of the scooter is estimated to be somewhere around 1 lakh in India.
The Ola FutureFactory
Ola’s electric scooters are to come to life at the company’s brand new 500-acre manufacturing facility—named the FutureFactory—that is situated close to Krishnagiri in the state of Tamil Nadu. In an attempt to source all of its components locally, the facility is equipped with a separate battery-manufacturing unit that will be operated by Ola itself. In addition, approximately 50 vendors have set up shop around the main factory, over as much as a 240-acre area, further permitting the company’s intention to locally source its materials.
Aiming for an annual production of 10M electric vehicles, the company wishes to set up the capacity for two million units by the end of June of this year. Modeling itself after the Tesla Gigafactory based in Nevada, United States, the Ola FutureFactory’s chief manufacturing unit will span across 43 acres and be one of the most sustainable two-wheeler factories in the world. The company claims that the facility is entirely carbon negative and a majority of its operations are powered by renewable energy. To this end, most of the manufacturing units are equipped with rooftop solar panels that will fulfill a whopping 20% of their power needs.
The FutureFactory is also one of the smartest and most advanced in the industry. Upwards of 3000 AI-driven robots are programmed to build each and every product with utmost precision. Various stages of the manufacturing process are also optimized through the implementation of AI. A 2400 crore investment, the facility, in its full glory, will provide employment opportunities to roughly 10,000 people.
What the Future Holds
Although lockdowns induced by Covid-19 had slowed down production, the company assures that it is recovering swiftly and expects the production rate to normalize completely by the end of June 2021. With big plans for expansion in the pipeline, Ola intends to launch its electric scooter not only in the Indian market but also across European markets, including but not limited to countries such as Italy, France, and Germany in this very financial year. Other countries such as Spain and the United Kingdom also appear to be promising markets, according to Ola’s Chairman and Group CEO, Bhavish Aggarwal.