In India's quickly growing electric vehicle (EV) industry, several companies are making their presence felt and one of them is Ola Electric, which has been in the news since it announced the launch of S1 and S1 pro.
But recently, while citing Ola Electric's recent launch activity, a top official at Bajaj Auto said that the company would rather design and build EVs in-house than rely on imported technical know-how to launch a half-baked product.
Earlier this month, Ola's rival, Ather Energy's CEO and co-founder Tarun Mehta also took a shot at Ola's “True Range”. Now, Rakesh Sharma, Executive Director, Bajaj Auto, said: “We are not looking at importing designs and slapping together a power-train to speedily enter the market with a half complete product.”
“We would prefer that our products are designed to address specific use cases,” he added.
Bhavesh Aggarwal, the CEO of Ola Electric, has received a lot of criticism from the clients, with many of them taking to social media to express their dissatisfaction and disappointment.
It was understood that despite the hype, Ola has not only struggled to meet delivery deadlines, but the quality of its first electric scooter has also fallen short of expectations.
In May 2020, Ola announced the acquisition of Etergo BV, an innovative electric scooter OEM, based out of Amsterdam and its entry into the premium electric two-wheeler market.
The Ola S1 scooter is essentially a product invented and developed by a Netherlands-based firm. Ola presently manufactures its scooters in the world's largest plant in Tamil Nadu.
Last year, Ola caused a stir when it revealed that the booking fee for its scooters would be Rs 499. It did not specify delivery timelines to consumers at the time, nor did it begin manufacturing at its factory.
Later, the company claimed that within 24 hours of starting the bookings, it had received over 100,000 reservations.
In the case of Bajaj Auto, Sharma said: “Despite the frenzy surrounding the whole subject (of electric vehicles), we are clear that we will choose certainty over speed to ensure we do not damage a nascent category (of EVs) and build a robust and dependable brand.”
Chetak, Bajaj Auto's first electric vehicle, was released in January 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic, which damaged the component supply chain, including batteries and semiconductors, halted the model's nationwide introduction.
Bookings had to be halted, and the company's roll-out was limited to just two cities.
Following the reopening of bookings for the Chetak, Sharma said that Bajaj Auto has had cancellations as a result of bookings being started 'by a competitor.' However, he stressed the fact that after clients had a chance to try the competitor's product, the cancellations decreased.
“When the news of competitors was hitting the market in October-November, we did see some cancellations in the bookings. However, in December and January, when the performance of the competition was seen and experienced by customers, our cancellations dropped down to a trickle,” he added.
While Bajaj Auto plans to increase Chetak production to 5,000 units per month in the June quarter, Sharma said the vehicle has a 10,000-unit order book. The company delivered 2,000 Chetaks in the December quarter.
Bajaj Auto is one of 115 firms that applied for the government's Champion OEM Incentive Scheme. The company plans to invest over Rs 1,000 crore in 5 years under the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, including a Rs 300 crore investment in Akurdi, Pune, for a new facility with a capacity of 5,00,000 units per year.
However, with “a class-leading range of 90 km (Under ISC as per AIS 040) with a new battery on a full charge in Eco Mode” the Chetak is India's most costly electric two-wheeler.
According to the details given on its website, two variants come in six colours, two Variants with FAME Price Rs 1,41,440 ex-showroom Pune.
Sharma said: “We are able to carry very large level of bookings at the highest prices for extended periods. Hence, we are convinced that the most important thing for us is to establish Bajaj and Chetak as very dependable brands.”
In the case of EVs in India, as per an analysis, in December last year, overall high speed-electric two-wheeler sales in the country were 24,725 units, representing a 10 per cent year-over-year increase and a 444 per cent increase in registrations.
Two-wheelers alone accounted for 48.6 per cent of all sales, while Electric cars made up only 5 per cent of the total.
The top 10 players, including Okinawa Autotech, Hero Electric, Ampere Vehicles, Ather Energy, Pure EV and others in this market, accounted for 94 per cent of all registrations in December 2021.
It needs to be noted that while Hero Electric maintained its sales from the beginning of 2021, Okinawa’s constant growth finally surpassed the market giant in the last month of the year.
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