The firm’s factory at Pochampalli in Tamil Nadu will cater to production for its global supply
The company plans to open the next round of bookings for its scooters by late January
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MUMBAI/ BENGALURU :
Ola Electric plans to start selling its electric scooters in the international markets next year, a senior executive said.
“The factory (at Pochampalli in Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu) is an investment we’re making, which is not just for this range of scooters, it is for the entire range of scooters and bikes, and this factory will be not just for India, but even for global manufacturing. So, as we go to international markets next year, this factory is going to cater to that as well," Varun Dubey, chief marketing officer, Ola Electric, said in an interview on Tuesday.
The company is looking at the top two-wheeler markets in Europe, including France, Germany and Italy, for a potential launch as early as next year, a person aware of Ola Electric’s plans said on the condition of anonymity.
Earlier this year, Ola founder and chief executive Bhavish Agarwal disclosed the company’s plans to sell its electric scooters in international markets.
Ola’s international expansion plans come when it is expanding its marketing initiatives and plans to scale up customer test drives of its electric scooters to more than 1,000 cities by mid-December.
Meanwhile, Dubey said the maker of S1 and S1 Pro scooter models plans to open the next round of bookings for its scooters by late January.
Recently, the company had to push back deliveries of its electric scooters due to the global semiconductor chip shortage, which impacted its production just as it did for most other automakers in India.
The first batch of customer deliveries is now slated to happen in the last fortnight of December. The company had earlier planned to deliver the first batch between 25 October and 25 November and had opened the final payment window for the two scooters on 10 November.
“If you actually look around in the industry, most people are given 14 weeks to a year of delay. So, I think our ability to mitigate (delays) to just two to three weeks is quite good... The situation is complicated; it is an evolving situation—even the best of people are not able to predict it. But at least, we have made all the efforts possible to ensure that the delays are as minimal as possible," said Dubey.
According to estimates from the industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), vehicle wholesales or factory dispatches declined 11% on an annualized basis as the global chip shortage weighed on production.
Meanwhile, as Ola Electric expands its test drive initiative to more cities, it is not averse to the idea of opening physical retail outlets in the future.
“Currently, our plan is very clear. We are taking the scooter to customers directly, whether it is test drives, whether it is delivery or service. Over time, who can say, if the customer comes back and tells us we want a showroom, we will make showrooms and experience centres," Dubey said.
The company could look at opening experience centres where it will allow customers to walk in and experience its scooters, especially in tier-II cities, in a bid to penetrate further into the world’s second-largest two-wheeler market.
Ola Electric is also investing in setting up its electric vehicle charging network ‘Ola Hypercharger Network’, to boost charging infrastructure in the country. It plans to set up 100,000 two-wheeler charging points across 400 cities.
“For us to be successful, we need to think of the whole ecosystem. It’s not just the product, or the manufacturing and the manufacturing ecosystem, or the supply chain and logistics ecosystem. We have to think about the charging infrastructure in that ecosystem. There is the product and the software ecosystem, and the hardware system. We are doing this entire thing vertically integrated," said Dubey when asked about profitability around Ola Electric’s business model.
In October, Ola raised over $200 million in a funding round, led by Falcon Edge and SoftBank.
The same month Mint reported that Ola was in the final stages of raising an additional $200 million as a part of a fresh fund-raise which could value the startup at over $5 billion.
Several US-based blue-chip funds are expected to participate in the round.
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