India’s answer to Tesla is almost here, it seems. As Ola Electric's first two-wheeler—launched in the Indian market on August 15—opens its purchase window from today, Bhavish Aggarwal, the 35-year-old founder of the company is hopeful about the company's growth potential. Aggarwal says that the next step towards the company’s expansion is rolling out electric cars. “Car will be there soon. Right now we’re focused on getting our scooter out but we are working on our car. It’ll be out in 2023,” he said.
Ola Electric was carved out of ride-hailing firm Ola in 2017 and became a unicorn two years later—backed by Tiger Global, Matrix Partners, and SoftBank. The company has launched its much-awaited e-scooter in two variants—the S1 and the S1 Pro. Ola S1, with a range of 121 km on a single charge is priced at ₹99,999 while Ola S1 Pro costs ₹1,29,999 and is capable of giving a 181 km range. Ola S1 can attain a top speed of 90 km/h and the S1 Pro can reach upto 115 km/h. Generally, an ICE (internal combustion engine) city-speed vehicle can reach 80-85 km/h.
"At 10 million units a year, it will be a fairly large revenue business. It could be about $8-10 billion a year just from that factory and we absolutely aim to accelerate the journey of full utilization of that factory," he told Fortune India. "If India goes fully-electric by 2025, we definitely want to have a high market share in that journey."
Aggarwal will have a similar approach while rolling out his next set of products. "Our vision is to be the future of mobility and to be the future mobility platform for India and for the rest of the world. And ride-sharing has been the start of that vision, a core pillar of that vision. Second pillar is our Ola Electric business where we want to make in India for the world. And the third pillar for us is to build a new format of auto retail. People need to consume and buy auto products in a digital way," he added.
The company opened its electric scooter up for pre-booking on July 15 and received one lakh reservations within the first 24 hours. The deliveries will start in October. Right now the challenge for Aggarwal is to keep up with the upcoming demand at its ₹2,400-crore mega factory in Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu. At its full capacity of 10 million units by next two years, Ola’s ‘Future Factory’ will roll out one electric scooter (e-scooter) every two seconds. Once completed, the 500-acre factory—the world’s largest two-wheeler plant—will account for 15% of the world’s two-wheeler production.
"It has been very exciting building the Ola electric business. Including the product, the factory and the manufacturing capability. It was a new domain for us when we got into it. While we started the company three years ago we pretty much started at speed about 1-1.5 years back. It has been a lot of learnings for me also. I have been in the software business not in the manufacturing/hardware business," he said.
Ola’s scooters also have a new operating system—Move OS—that takes care of all over-the-air soft updates, navigation, personalisation of audio, parental controls, proximity lock/unlock, and digital keys (since the product has done away with physical keys).
"We had a clear goal of what we wanted to build. We wanted to build the best product in the world. So, from day 1 itself we invested in the technology so that we can create that kind of a product. We were very clear about the timeline. We wanted to release this product within a year of us starting the development and worked backwards. We were simultaneously working on the product, software, the factory construction and the manufacturing process," he said.