Ola to roll out 10,000 electric vehicles over the next 12 months

Bengaluru: Ola, the cab-hailing service that is in talks to raise at least $1 billion in fresh funds, will introduce a fleet of 10,000 electric vehicles (EVs) over the next 12 months.

On Monday, Ola, run by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd, said that as part of its Mission: Electric initiative, it would look to deploy 1 million electric vehicles on the roads by 2021.

As part of its latest launch, Ola will mostly deploy three-wheeler vehicles, or what the company calls e-rickshaws and electric auto-rickshaws.

“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, founder and chief executive officer of Ola.

In an interview in December 2016, Masayoshi Son, chairman of SoftBank Group, which is the largest investor in Ola, had said that the cab-hailing start-up might introduce a fleet of one million electric cars in partnership with an electric vehicle maker and the government.

In an interview in May last year, Aggarwal had said that the start-up would introduce fully electric cabs on a pilot basis in major cities in India.

Last month in Nagpur, Ola launched a pilot project to test a fleet of its electric vehicles. Ola had also launched its first electric vehicle project in Nagpur in May last year.

“Less than a year ago, we launched India’s first multi-modal electric pilot in Nagpur. After more than 4 million electric kilometres travelled and many lessons learned, we are significantly expanding our commitment to electrify mobility in India. Ola leads by example, and we look forward to working with state governments and other partners to introduce accessible, affordable, and sustainable mobility solutions at scale.”

So far, electric vehicles have not taken off in a big way in India because of the high cost of manufacturing and the lack of sufficient infrastructure such as battery-charging stations—despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious 2030 goal of making all new vehicles electric by then.

Ola has also encountered initial struggles to get its electric vehicle project up and running. However, that situation is expected to change for the better over the coming months and years as large investors such as SoftBank place massive bets on the electric vehicle sector.

Bengaluru-based Ola is not the only company that is making a massive foray into the electric vehicle segment. In November, India’s only electric car maker, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, forged a non-exclusive partnership with Ola’s arch-rival, Uber Technologies Inc., to deploy its electric vehicles on the Uber platform in select cities.

In February, Mahindra Group, which also has a partnership with Ola, said it would invest Rs900 crore in electric vehicles over the next four years.

Since starting out in 2010, Ola has raised roughly $2.5 billion in capital from SoftBank, Tiger Global, DST Global, Matrix and others. It last received $1.1 billion mostly from SoftBank and Tencent last year, and said it is looking for $1 billion more.livemint

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