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Ola Electric In India Is Feeling The Pressure Of Success And Its Like Tesla With Two Wheels

Ola Electric In India Is Feeling The Pressure Of Success And Its Like Tesla With Two Wheels
India's Elon Musk, Bhavish Aggarwal, is rushing to launch millions of electric scooters and propel his country towards a cleaner future. However, some of his mechanics are unable to keep up.
Aggarwal compares Ola Electric to Tesla in the West, and the company is rapidly heading towards a public market offering. In just two years, Ola Electric's sales of e-scooters went from zero to 338,000. The IT magnate promises to eradicate internal combustion engines (ICEs) from India, a country where two-wheelers predominate.
The 38-year-old told Reuters that we will "end the ICE age" prior to the August 15 debut of new Ola e-scooters, which will start at roughly $1,000. This marks Indian Independence Day.
He said that by early January, the $5.4 billion company would have quadrupled its yearly production capacity to 2 million e-scooters.
There are a few bumps in Ola's fast journey, though.
Following the spike in sales, some of the company's 400+ service hubs around the country are beginning to show symptoms of strain. This information comes from Reuters trips to 35 centres in 10 states between July and October, as well as conversations with 36 Ola service employees and 40 customers.
Employees at over half of those centres, which are primarily located in the major cities of Bengaluru, Chennai, and Mumbai, reported that they had large backlogs due to demand exceeding supply of spare parts or personnel, with repair wait periods varying between three days to two weeks.
More than a hundred e-scooters were visible outside an Ola workshop in Thane, one of the largest of the 14 locations in the Mumbai region, awaiting repairs. Many of them were parked in a muddy clearing that was collecting dust and covered with bird droppings.
A Thane service manager named Devendra Ghuge told Reuters in late October that during the preceding four months, the center's caseload had increased from 200–300 to about 1,000 cases each month, with wait times of up to two weeks.
Aggarwal, the founder and CEO of Ola, had promised in January that users would, in most circumstances, be able to bring their cars into a hub and obtain same-day service.
He claimed that consumers were "voting with their wallets every month" by grabbing Ola EVs in the August interview. However, he recognised that there were problems with service capacity and stated that Ola was "aggressively" boosting its support network by recruiting more professionals and creating 100 more centres.
"We have the highest number of products on the market ... and we do have a scale-up required in our service network," he said.
A representative for Ola claimed that the story was inaccurate in describing the scope and calibre of the company's strong and expanding service activities.
In India, the largest two-wheeler market in the world, a strong service network is essential, according to Ravi Bhatia of the auto consultancy firm JATO Dynamics. According to him, Indians are less familiar with the tech-packed EVs, which can be more vulnerable to knocks and bumps than many traditional scooters and motorbikes.
Hundreds of millions of people use two-wheelers to navigate India's sometimes congested and pothole-filled roadways, which can make for challenging driving conditions.
Ola requires "to build the infrastructure for service accordingly, otherwise word-of-mouth will bite them," Bhatia stated.
Aggarwal is a man in a rush who frequently says, "Tesla is for the West, Ola for the rest."
He claims that by the end of 2025, every new scooter and motorcycle sold in India may be electric. This is far more than the government's 2030 target of having 70% of new two-wheeler sales be EVs.
After launching its first e-scooter two years ago, Ola has become the market leader in India for two-wheeler electric vehicles, accounting for roughly one-third of total sales. It is preparing for a $700 million Indian IPO and has drawn notable investors like Singapore's Temasek and Japan's SoftBank.
According to industry data, sales of e-scooters increased to over 700,000 in March compared to the same month last year, largely due to Ola and competitors like Hero Electric and TVS Motor.
However, such sales still paled in comparison to the 10.2 million motorbikes and 5.2 million new scooters sold in India, a country where EV adoption is still in its infancy and EV adoption significantly trails behind that of the United States and China.
Software bugs, damaged cables, and battery drains were among the reported servicing concerns, according to Ghuge, the manager of Ola's Thane workshop. He said that several vehicles had been damaged after skidding on roads during the monsoon season , and he attributed a large portion of the service rush to Indians' inexperience operating e-scooters on the nation's sometimes poorly maintained roadways.
"Electric vehicles are new to people so they aren't aware of how to ride the vehicle to maximise optimal output," he said.
After his EV broke down in September, customer Khubeb Koradia, 25, said it took three weeks for the Thane centre to repair software-related difficulties. He claimed, pointing to the several cars parked outside, that the workshop "looked like a scooter graveyard".
Ronald Radhakrishnan, the service manager of the Ola centre in Kochi, had said in August that the facility's 17 employees were "unable to handle demand for repairs". Numerous cars were parked in front of the workplace, and some of them were also in the spot across the street where scooters were kept.
Scheduling a repair time has proven to be difficult for certain consumers.
Koradia posted a video of his attempt to schedule a time slot for October 31 in order to address an e-scooter that was overheating. His request for repairs was denied by seven of the eight closest service locations in Mumbai, all of which gave the identical response: "All slots for this location are full for the next few days."
A survey of social media posts indicates that hundreds of other Ola customers have similarly voiced complaints about waiting hours for repairs or having trouble booking servicing dates.
Despite this, Aggarwal remains confident in his company, stating that during India's holiday season last month, sales "went through the roof" and that an e-scooter is sold every ten seconds.
He blamed rivals' "mudslinging" during his Reuters interview for most of the internet complaints over service-related concerns, without providing any elaboration. 
"A lot of what you hear and see need not actually be the truth," he said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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