Ride-hail­ing firm to launch 10,000 elec­tric rick­shaws by end of 2018-19 in first phase


Ride-hail­ing firm Ola has aligned it­self with in­vestor SoftBank’s dream of get­ting a mil­lion elec­tric ve­hi­cles (EVs) on In­dian roads, at a time when the com­pany is look­ing to edge out ri­val Uber.

SoftBank Chair­man and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Masayoshi Son had said in De­cem­ber 2016 that he was will­ing to “gift” one mil­lion elec­tric ve­hi­cles to In­dia through his in­vest­ment in Ola.

SoftBank is the lead­ing in­vestor in both Uber and Ola and is said to be push­ing for a po­ten­tial merger of the two.

Ola on Mon­day an­nounced ‘Mis­sion: Elec­tric’, a project to put a mil­lion elec­tric ve­hi­cles on In­dia’s roads by 2021. In the first phase, the Ben­galu­rubased com­pany will launch 10,000 elec­tric rick­shaws in the four met­ros by the end of 201819. It has been run­ning a pilot for elec­tric mo­bil­ity in Nag­pur since May 2017.

“We are in talks with state and mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments, orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers and elec­tric ve­hi­cle in­no­va­tors glob­ally. Ola is will­ing to work with any city com­mit­ted to sus­tain­able mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions,” a com­pany spokesper­son said.

Busi­nessS­tan­dard re­ported in Jan­uary that Ola had hired for­mer Ba­jaj Auto ex­ec­u­tive Chi­nam Ne­taji Pa­tro as its se­nior di­rec­tor for elec­tric ve­hi­cles, with a plan to de­velop elec­tric auto rick­shaws. In March, Ola also roped in for­merBMWex­ec­u­tive Anand Shah to head its new ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing its elec­tric ve­hi­cle divi­sion.

Ola was work­ing on de­vel­op­ing tech­nolo­gies for elec­tric auto rick­shaws, and while it could not get into man­u­fac­tur­ing, the com­pany is try­ing be an in­te­gra­tor to has­ten de­vel­op­ment in the space, sources said. “Three-wheel­ers are a vi­tal means of trans­porta­tion and a source of liveli­hood for mil­lions. It also rep­re­sents an im­me­di­ate op­por­tu­nity to im­prove out­comes for all stake­hold­ers while re­duc­ing pol­lu­tion across towns and cities,” Ola co-founder and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Bhav­ish Ag­gar­wal said in a state­ment on Mon­day.

In May last year, Ola had kicked off its first elec­tric mo­bil­ity pilot in Nag­pur with help from the gov­ern­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Mahin­dra Elec­tric. While in­sid­ers said the ex­per­i­ment failed due to the high cost of elec­tric ve­hi­cles and lack of charg­ing in­fras­truc­ture, it pushed the com­pany to fo­cus more on elec­tric three-wheel­ers for the time be­ing. Ola said the pilot clocked 4 mil­lion kilo­me­tres.

Bhav­ish Ag­gar­wal-led Ola has been run­ning a pilot for elec­tric mo­bil­ity in Nag­pur since May 2017

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