Bloomberg: Bhavish Aggarwal, who founded India’s top ride-hailing startup and then moved into manufacturing electric scooters, is expanding his business empire again, unveiling plans to enter the electric-car market in competition with local giants like Tata Group and global automakers from Hyundai Motor Co to Tesla Inc.
The 36-year-old entrepreneur said that Ola aims to launch its first electric car in the summer of 2024 with a 500-kilometer range. It plans to make its own lithium ion batteries, bringing down costs with local production. The goal is to forge a path towards self-reliance in the relevant technologies and then produce a made-in-India electric vehicle.
The futuristic-looking vehicle, with an all-glass roof, will be part of Aggarwal’s Ola Electric Mobility Pvt. His earlier startup, ANI Technologies Pvt., runs the Ola ride-hailing operations.
Aggarwal, whose backers include SoftBank Group Corp. and Tiger Global Management, announced the vehicle on a day India celebrated completing 75 years of independence from the British rule, and exactly a year after Ola’s electric two-wheel scooter was introduced.
In a sign of how crowded the market has become, Mahindra Electric Mobility Ltd., part of a storied Indian conglomerate, plans to unveil a series of its own EVs the same day, according to local media.
Aggarwal has been tweeting teaser videos of a red car with only its rear wheels visible, as well as cheeky Bollywood movie one-liners, ahead of the Monday announcement.
Ola is pressing ahead with plans to earn what Aggarwal has called “a seat at the global EV table.” Last year, he unveiled what was billed the world’s largest electric-scooter plant at a site about three hours from its headquarters in Bangalore. The goal was to pump out about two million scooters annually, but plans have been marred by delivery delays, quality issues and, in some cases, scooters catching fire.
Traditional combustion-engine scooters and motorcycles remain the favored mode of personal transport in India and dominate the country’s roads. But in recent years, the government has been pushing measures to improve urban air and reduce dependence on oil imports by boosting EV sales through reduced taxes and duty exemptions. Some 0.32 million such vehicles were sold in 2021, up 168% year-on-year, according to the government’s India Brand Equity Foundation.
India is projected to become the world’s third-largest auto market by 2030, the foundation said, and the government has set ambitious electrification goals for the period.