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Cab aggregator Ola has appointed former General Motors (GM) veteran Jose Pinheiro as the head of global manufacturing and operations for its electric business. Ola’s ambitious electric vehicles business includes a new two million units per annum manufacturing plant to help it achieve the goal of introducing its two-wheelers in the Indian market early next year.

“His (Pinheiro’s) deep domain expertise will help us deliver the game changing Ola electric scooter at scale and will help catalyse the Indian EV ecosystem," said Bhavish Aggarwal, chairman and group chief executive officer, Ola.

Pinheiro’s appointment comes after a spate of high-profile exits from Ola’s EV arm, including that of Ola Electric co-founders Ankit Jain in August and Anand Shah a year earlier. Sanjay Bhan, Ola Electric’s chief business officer, also left the company just months after taking charge in July.

“There will be more hires in the coming months," said a person familiar with the development, requesting anonymity. The EV arm, which had raised $250 million from the SoftBank Group at a valuation of $1 billion in July 2019, is going ahead with its plans to sell its products in India and other markets.

The developments come at a time when Ola, like other mobility startups in India, is taking rapid strides towards green technologies. Ola forayed into EVs to supplement its core mobility offering. It had acquired Ridlr, India’s largest public transportation platform, and Amsterdam-based electric two-wheeler OEM-Etergo BV, to power its EV portfolio.

Pinheiro served as vice president of manufacturing for GM Latin America. He had managed 16 GM industrial complexes across nine countries and two continents. Ola said his deep expertise in manufacturing will be critical in building its range of two-wheelers.

“I look forward to collaborating with this incredible team and building a world class manufacturing facility to deliver Ola’s range of electric two wheelers, including the upcoming scooter. The rapid pace of progress at Ola is impressive and energising, and I am looking forward to contributing to Ola’s mission of sustainable mobility," Pinheiro said.

Mobility startups, one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, have started seeing healthy recovery in key segments and are making use of the opportunity to make a faster transition to EVs and reduce mounting operating losses.

The EV segment accounts for just about 1% of India’s automobile market, leaving enough room for mobility firms to expand green technologies for benefits such as cheaper operational and maintenance costs, and bringing down the carbon footprint.

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