Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, bolstered his position in India’s top cab aggregator, Ola, by investing an undisclosed amount in its fledgling electric vehicle business.
This marks the second external investment in Ola Electric Mobility, which has so far struggled to take off. The investment is part of an ongoing series A round of financing, the company said on Monday.
Ola expects Tata’s investment to also bring ‘deep experience and mentorship’ to foster Ola’s attempts at making electric mobility viable at scale.
In March, Ola Electric received an infusion of ₹400 crore from Ola’s early backers Tiger Global and Matrix India. Tata, too has been an early investor in ANI Technologies, which runs Ola.
“The electric vehicle ecosystem is evolving dramatically every day and I believe Ola Electric will play a key role in its growth and development," said Tata.
Ola Electric, which is led by Anand Shah (previously from Audi and BMW) is attempting to develop an electric mobility ecosystem, including a charging infrastructure, battery swapping and other products.
It is running several pilots to deploy electric vehicles and charging solutions.
Ola Electric was established to launch an electric mobility pilot programme in Nagpur, for which it had tied up with Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. The pilot project, which allowed Ola drivers to use electric vehicles, however, failed to take off because of a lukewarm response from cab drivers, with some of them even returning the vehicles.
Ola remained undeterred and continued to explore the electric vehicle business and, in 2018, it announced a mission to bring one million electric vehicles in the country by 2021.
More companies are probing forays into electric vehicles. Even relatively small companies such as bike rental startup Vogo, an investee company of Ola, are piloting electric vehicles in Bengaluru.
M&M, the biggest electric car maker in the country, recently launched an app called Glyd to deliver personalized transportation needs through electric vehicles.
Tata has been an active investor across several startups over the years. These include Paytm, Zivame, CarDekho, Snapdeal and Urban Ladder.
“Tata has been an inspiration and a mentor to me personally in shaping Ola’s journey over the years," said Bhavish Aggarwal, chief executive of Ola.
“He is a visionary who has inspired a generation of entrepreneurs and we are privileged to have his guidance and support once again as we work towards our goal of a million electric vehicles in India by 2021," he said.