After discontinuing Ola S1, Ola Electric to launch new low-cost scooter in 2022
Last year, Ola Electric had decided to not manufacture the lower-end variant of its scooter, the S1, as more than 70% of the bookings it had received were for the higher-spec Ola S1 Pro. However, the company now hopes to launch the S1 as a more affordable scooter in this calendar year, according to chief executive Bhavish Aggarwal.
In an interview, Aggarwal also said that the company also hopes to start exports to several markets in a few months.
Ola Electric has manufactured more than 50,000 Ola S1 Pro scooters, servicing nearly all its orders from the first and second booking windows the electric two-wheeler maker had opened up, he said.
The company had said it received more than 100,000 reservations (against ₹499) for its S1 Pro and S1 in 24 hours in July last year.
Ola Electric is at a production run rate of up to 800 vehicles a day with three shifts, which Aggarwal hopes can be ramped up in a few months to 2,000 scooters a day from its assembly line, as the supply chain ramps up.
The company’s production line is capable of producing about 1.5 million scooters annually. However, the ramp-up is hindered by the pace of cell and parts supply, Aggarwal said. Ola claims that at full capacity its FutureFactory, in Tamil Nadu, will be able to produce 10 million units annually. Work is on to expand its scale of operations, it said.
Even as Ola Electric has quickly snagged a significant chunk of the electric two-wheeler market in India, an incident of thermal runaway in one of its scooters in Pune in March had sparked concerns with respect to the safety and build of the vehicle. The company announced that it will recall more than 1,400 of its Ola S1 Pro scooters as a “pre-emptive measure” to conduct “thorough diagnostics across all battery systems, thermal and safety systems”. This comes just days after Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari’s remarks on the need for original equipment manufacturers to act proactively and recall defective vehicles. “We have commissioned world class agencies to give us an assessment of the root cause, what we can do better and what our suppliers can do better. We are awaiting those reports,” Aggarwal said on Saturday at a press interaction at Ola’s FutureFactory.
Ola Electric will order a recall of some scooters that are using the same batch of batteries as the incident in Pune as a matter of abundant caution and to ensure that “customer confidence in electrification is enhanced”.
Aggarwal also said that Ola has gone “above and beyond any existing Indian or global standards for battery safety”, but that did not guarantee that the “odd incident [of fire] will not happen”. A lot of “noise” was also being made about issues that the nascent EV technology is encountering, he also said.
Ola Electric has plans beyond electric two-wheelers. On Saturday, the company demonstrated an early prototype of its autonomous driving technology to the media. The technology was six-eight months in the making and will be ready for rollout into the export market as an electric car with autonomous driving capabilities by the end of 2024, Aggarwal revealed.