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Business News/ Auto News / Ola Electric aims to roll out premium, sporty car by 2024
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Ola Electric aims to roll out premium, sporty car by 2024

Ola Electric last month announced a $500 mn investment in an R&D unit in Bengaluru to develop EV batteries

Ola Electric chief executive officer and founder Bhavish Aggarwal.  (Photo: Bloomberg)Premium
Ola Electric chief executive officer and founder Bhavish Aggarwal.  (Photo: Bloomberg)

MUMBAI : Ola Electric, the company founded by entrepreneur Bhavish Aggarwal, said it will debut an electric car in India by the “summer of 2024", a move that will put the startup head-to-head with legacy automakers such as Tata Motors Ltd, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd and Hyundai Motor Co.

The car will be one of the ‘fastest’ and the ‘sportiest’ to be built in India, with the ability to sprint to 100km/hour from standstill within four seconds and have a range of 500km after every charge, Aggarwal, chief executive officer and founder of Ola Electric, claimed in a video presentation announcing the launch on microblogging site Twitter on Monday.

Ola Electric’s car will have an all-glass roof, be keyless (like Ola scooters) and without handles. It will have Ola’s MoveOS software and have a drag co-efficient of 0.21, according to Aggarwal. The lower the drag coefficient, which measures the way the vehicle passes through the air, the better the performance of a car.

“India is a young, energetic and extremely ambitious country. But the cars we build now are dull and boring," Aggarwal said, adding that India’s car image had evolved from the ‘sturdy’ Ambassador cars to the ‘efficient and reliable’ Maruti cars. “Countries and generations get associated with the cars they build," he added.

While Aggarwal posted teasers about the electric car earlier, too, even telling reporters that it may be launched as early as 2023, this is the first time he has provided its specifications.

Comparing carmakers across the world, Aggarwal said Americans were associated with large gas-guzzling trucks; Germans had a reputation for well-engineered luxury cars; Italians had the image of super sports cars; while Japanese carmakers had an image of high quality and efficient cars.

“Indian car makers are conservative, thinking that we only want small cars or maybe mid-sized cars. Global automakers think the Indian market is not ready for world-class technology and sell their hand-me-down tech in India," he added. “We need to change this," he said.

Aggarwal noted that the average cost of a car in the West is $70,000, while the average cost of a car in India is around $20,000. The electric car would be tailored to Indian markets, he added.

He did not specify the exact price, but said Ola is building a portfolio ranging from 1 lakh to 50 lakh, and this car would be priced at the higher range.

At full capacity, Ola Electric’s manufacturing hub in Tamil Nadu will produce a million cars, 10 million two-wheelers and a 100 GW/hour of cell capacity every year, according to Aggarwal. He, however, did not specify if the production of the electric car would require additional investment.

​Ola Electric was last valued at $5 billion in January, after it raised $200 million in a round from Tekne Private Ventures, Alpine Opportunity Fund, and Edelweiss, among others. Before that, it had secured $200 million from Falcon Edge, SoftBank and others at a valuation of $3 billion in September 2021.

Aggarwal also unveiled the plan to build a low-cost electric scooter version of the Ola S1 Pro on Monday while elaborating on the company’s plan to manufacture its own lithium-ion batteries at its so-called Future Factory in Tamil Nadu.

Ola S1 will be available at a starting price of 99,999, cheaper than the Ola S1Pro, which costs 1.4 lakh. It comes with a 3kWh lithium-ion battery pack and has an ARAI (Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India is the government-backed agency for testing and certifying vehicles) certified range of 141km, the company said.

The scooter has faced criticism from some customers after a few caught fire earlier this year, causing injuries to some customers. Some others have complained about range and quality issues.

Aggarwal did not address these issues but said the launch of S1Pro last year had increased India’s EV penetration to 5% from 1% previously. Ola Electric has sold over 70,000 S1 Pro scooters in seven months, he said.

Aggarwal said the company would upgrade the technology in the scooters to MoveOS-3 by Diwali, which would include additional features such as digital key sharing, proximity unlock and document sharing, he said.

Last month, Ola Electric announced a $500 million investment in a research and development centre in Bengaluru to develop EV batteries. “We missed the semiconductor, solar, electronic and other manufacturing revolutions. Everyone in the world is just starting out on this with cells and EVs. If we invest now and at scale, we can do this," Aggarwal said.

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Ranjani Raghavan
Ranjani Raghavan writes about the Indian investment ecosystem with a focus on venture capital, private equity and startups. Outside of work, she enjoys sketching and birding. You can find her @ranjanir_
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Updated: 16 Aug 2022, 05:58 AM IST
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