Ola Electric Mobility, a subsidiary of India’s Uber-competitor, Ola Cabs, recently announced a fresh round of funding from one of the most famous and influential industrialists in India.
Ratan Tata, the chairman emeritus of Tata Group, invested, in a personal capacity, in the Ola Cabs venture in the electric mobility segment. While a number of media agencies covered the news, none managed to extract the actual value of investment made by Tata.
Ola Electric plans to bring 1 million electric vehicles to the streets of India by 2021. In early 2018, the company had also announced a plan to launch 10,000 electric vehicles over a one-year period under this medium-term plan. These vehicles are expected to be mostly three-wheeler vehicles that represent a very popular mode of public transport in the India.
The company is believed to have an operational fleet of over 200 electric cars plying as cabs in the city of Nagpur, and claims that the fleet has already traveled 4 million kilometers. This fleet operates as a pilot project launched jointly by Ola Electric and Mahindra Electric, a manufacturer of passenger electric cars in India and subsidiary of auto group Mahindra and Mahindra.
Ola’s major competitor and global leader in cab aggregation services Uber has also entered into a partnership with Mahindra Electric. Last month, the two companies announced a plan to operate 50 electric vehicles as a pilot in the city of Hyderabad.
Passenger electric vehicles in India are not popular for private mobility and are currently only being used by government agencies, under mandate from the central and state governments. Three-wheelers and electric bikes and scooters are much more popular than cars. Electric rickshaws are currently the most preferred means of intra-city travel among all electric mobility offerings. These rickshaws are well-suited for very short-distance travel with small batteries that can be easily charged or replaced.
Cab-hailing services like Ola and Uber can very well prove path-breaking for electric cars to become popular private transportation options, as is envisaged by the Indian government. While several policy initiatives and broad-based incentives have been announced by the government, nothing announced directly for car buyers has so far attracted the attention of the masses.