Mumbai:Ola, founded byBhavish AggarwalandAnkit Bhati, plans to foray intoelectric scootermanufacturing, switching gears from being ataxi aggregatorto a vehicle manufacturer. It is in talks with multiple state governments for 100 acres of unencumbered land on which it plans to build the world’s largeste-scooterfacility.
Currently, Japanese major Honda operates the world’s largest scooter manufacturing site in Gujarat, which turns out 1.2 million fossil fuel-powered vehicles a year. The move will pit the homegrown ride-hailing company, in which Hyundai has an investment, against Bajaj Auto, TVS and Hero MotoCorp-backed Ather Energy.
Ola’s India manufacturing plan follows its recent purchase of Netherlands-based Etergo, owner of the App Scooter electric brand. Its senior management is in discussions with four Indian states — three from the southern region and another from the western belt — to build a 2-million electric scooter capacity plant, said people in the know. Ola, in response to an e-mailed query by TOI, said it was unable to comment at this time.
The Centre as well as the states have been offering incentives to companies in the electric vehicle ecosystem and to customers (who can claim an income tax rebate of up to Rs 1.5 lakh on interest paid on an electric vehicle loan) to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and to cut down on pollution.
But, despite these moves, the segment has been stymied by lack of investments in production (including battery pack manufacturing) and infrastructure, such as charging stations. Just 7,552 electric scooters were sold in the world’s second-most populous nation between April and September compared to 1.3 million conventional scooters sold in the same period.
But companies hope the scenario will improve amid shifting customer tastes and the government increasingly promoting clean automotive technology. Ola plans to zero in on a manufacturing site soon as it aims to start production in 18 months, an aggressive timetable for a vehicle plant. The manufacturing site will embrace Industry 4.0, will run on solar power and will have test tracks, said the sources.