Taxi aggregator Ola on Monday announced its "Mission: Electric", in partnership with Mahindra & Mahindra, with a commitment to place 10,000 e-rickshaws and electric auto-rickshaws in its service in the next 12 months. Ola wants to have one million electric vehicles on India's roads in three years time, a policy that lines up with Masayoshi Son, head of Softbank and one of Ola's chief investors, and his desire to "gift" India a million electric vehicles.
From cycle rickshaws to "shuttles" and last-mile transport, three-wheelers continue to be a dominant form of daily transit for many across the country as well as "a source of livelihood for millions of people every day". He adds that this also represent an immediate opportunity to improve outcomes for all stakeholders while reducing pollution across towns and cities.
In May a year ago, Ola had launched its first electric vehicle project in Nagpur. The pilot included cabs, buses, auto rickshaws and e-rickshaws, and charging infrastructure.
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A million electric Olas by 2021In line with its Mission Electric programme, Ola is planning introduction of a million shared EVs on the country's roads by 2021, and improve outcomes for its driver partners, as well as work towards solving mobility issues in the country with environmentally sustainable solutions.
Earlier, Ola was said to have partnered with Tata Motors to launch an EV version of Nano, called Jayem Neo, and deploy it in its fleet. To that end, the Japanese investment giant was looking to team up Ola and global vehicle maker, Toyota.
Three-wheel rickshaws are a popular way of making quick trips in many cities and can be hailed through Ola's app; the company's electric vehicle trial program in Nagpur, which started in May 2017, already includes rickshaws.
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To resolve the issue, a spokesperson for Ola said the company has set up charging docks at houses of some drivers to save time by swapping batteries.
According to the company, the pilot project provided significant insights into effectively managing vehicles, batteries, and operations. Ola intends to leverage its scale to bring cleaner, more comfortable, and safer products to market.
Reports also surfaced in May 2017 that Ola's chief investor SoftBank revealed plans to pivot Ola into an electric vehicle manufacturer. "The company plans to continue its experimentation with ways to optimize batteries and charging, to develop a strong business model for EV deployment in the country" the company said in a statement.
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The Bengaluru-based group believes that EVs cannot only help the environment, but it can also provide better outcomes for drivers, customers, as well as with its overall business model for EV deployment in India.