Currently, analysts are predicting that Ola will corner a majority of the EV market soon after launch.
But they are underestimating the potential of a good two-wheeler EV.
The Jio moment for the electric two-wheeler market is here. Just as Reliance brought in a high-speed, low-cost revolution in the internet space, Ola is going to transform the fledgling electric vehicle arena in the country.
The cab aggregator-turned-EV manufacturer finally unveiled its electric two-wheeler on India’s 75th Independence Day.
The reservations in exchange for a token amount of Rs 499 were opened last month, which will continue till September when those who have booked their vehicle will be asked to pay the remaining amount and the deliveries will kick off from October.
As expected, in design, performance or digital tech, the specifications of the two models launched by Ola — S1 and S1 Pro — stand shoulders above the existing competition in the two-wheeler EV segment.
In fact, the touted specifications of the models on performance and digital technology are far more attracting than what’s being offered in the internal combustion engine (ICE) two-wheelers market in India today.
Design and colours are also a class apart, but that being a subjective criterion, it’s better to discount it for comparison purposes.
From insane acceleration (0-40 kmph in 3 seconds), a surprising high speed of 115 kmph, a range of 181 km (and a 75 km range in 18 minutes of fast charging) — all for the Pro model coupled with unbelievable features (for a two-wheeler) like cruise control, reverse gear and hill hold, there is no other offering from even ICE players that can match its models at similar price range - S1 will cost around Rs 85,000 in the national capital (Rs 80,000 in Gujarat which has the best state subsidy incentive for EVs) and the Pro one will cost about Rs 1.10 lakh (ex-showroom).
Some states don’t charge any road tax or registration charges, so the final cost of the vehicle will be similar to ex-showroom prices there.
The most appealing part of Ola’s EV models is the digital tech which boasts of a digital key, and mobile app that can track your scooter or tell you charging status, customisable instrument cluster on seven-inch display where many users (drivers) can have their own profiles, tweak sounds and widgets on screen as per their mood, receive/respond to calls or texts, play music with scooter’s speakers and use map navigation which also has locations of Ola fast charging points among other features.
While the seamlessness of Ola’s MoveOS tech will be tested only when it's available for test rides and actual usage, these are going to appeal massively to the youth in colleges and high school.
One hopes that the tech experience will be far better than what Ola drivers have to go through on daily basis with not-so-perfect navigation systems. The consumer experience when it comes to the Ola cab hailing app is also pretty bad compared to Uber. One wishes that customers don’t face similar problems as far as Ola electric is concerned.
This is a bold move when the whole two-wheeler industry sold two crore vehicles in 2019, the pre-pandemic year (the sales shrank to 1.5 crore vehicles in 2020).
The best available two-wheeler EV currently (in quality, not in sales number) has been the offering from Ather Energy, a startup based in Bengaluru.
But it sold only 3,000 units in 2020, though that was still a 30 per cent increase from the previous year. Overall, the total two-wheeler EV sales figure for 2020 was 30,000-odd vehicles.
In the first half of fiscal 2021-22, a similar number of EVs have been sold, which shows that the total annual sales might double. In this environment, Ola’s electric scooter is being launched.
Reports in the media claim that it received 1 lakh bookings in less than 24 hours, which shows that the demand is there if someone offers a quality product at an affordable price.
Currently, analysts are predicting that Ola will corner a majority of the EV market soon after launch. But they are underestimating the potential of a good two-wheeler EV.
Ola has a good chance of cornering a majority of the two-wheeler market and make decades-old established players irrelevant in no time.
If Ola’s product is as good as claimed, there is a small window for industry giants to change or face a total rout.
The success of Ola’s two-wheeler EV will be hugely beneficial for the country. As per a survey in 2014 by Nielsen, two-wheelers consumed 61.42 per cent of the country’s total petrol sales. The share wouldn’t have changed much in the last six years. As per Niti Aayog‘s report from 2018, two-wheelers alone consume around 3,400 crore litres of petrol every year.
At Rs 100 per litre, this would amount to Rs 3.4 lakh crore. Imagine the savings to both consumers and the government (on account of oil import bill) if electric were to take off.
Three important factors are now at play which are incentivising the demand for EVs — high petrol prices, recent increase in subsidy by Centre for two-wheeler EVs by 50 per cent and states providing additional subsidy over and above the one given by the Centre (Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi being the most generous with subsidy per kwh at par with the Centre or even higher and waiving of registration/road tax by some other states).
These incentives may not last long if the Ola EV revolution really takes off and lakhs of people indeed start buying these two-wheelers. That would be too costly for the state’s exchequer.
But, perhaps, by that time, the improvement in technology would help bring down the costs even further. Everyone should root for the success of Ola electric as it would be a huge victory for the environment, economy and national interest.
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