India’s Ola Electric eyes higher sales with affordable e-scooters

By VarunVyas Hebbalalu and Riddhima Talwani

POCHAMPALLI, TAMIL NADU (Reuters) -Ola Electric, India’s largest maker of electric scooters, launched its most affordable rides on Tuesday, in an effort to woo more buyers as the price of e-scooters moves closer to gasoline models.

The SoftBank Group-backed company also plans to launch four e-motorcycles by end-2024.

The new e-scooter models, S1X and S1X+, will be priced at 99,999 rupees ($1,199.15) and 109,999 rupees, respectively, with the cheapest variant of S1X about 36% lower than Bangalore-based Ola’s most expensive e-scooter, the S1 Pro, which sells for 140,000 rupees.

The least expensive gasoline scooter in India costs about 64,000 rupees.

Gasoline two-wheelers account for the bulk of automobile sales in India and crossed 5 million units last fiscal, of which electric models made up around 15%, industry data showed.

The government wants this to grow to 70% by 2030 and is offering incentives to boost sales.

Ola has launched cheaper scooters through a new generation platform, reducing production costs by 25%, founder and Chief Executive Bhavish Aggarwal told Reuters.

The company, which first began selling electric scooters in 2021 and competes with start-ups like Ather Energy, leads the e-scooter market with a 32% share. Valued at $5 billion last year, Ola sold around 95,000 e-scooters from April-August 2023, industry data showed.

While the new models will boost Ola’s market share, Aggarwal said his focus is to increase EV penetration in India and wants electric models to comprise the majority of scooter sales by next year.

“Our goal is eventually to bring the upfront price of an EV equal to internal combustion engine models … without any government incentives.”

The IPO-bound company also plans to expand its plant’s annual production capacity to 2 million units from 500,000 currently, and double the number of experience stores to 2,000.

Ola recorded an operating loss of $136 million on a revenue of $335 million in the fiscal ended March 2023, Reuters reported.

However, Aggarwal said the business has “scaled very well” so far and expects financials to be better. He did not specify a timeline.

Ola also said it has opened 100 more service centres across India, taking the tally to 500.

($1 = 83.3916 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Varun Vyas in Pochampalli, Riddhima Talwani in New Delhi and Biplob Kumar Das in Bengaluru, editing by Aditi Shah and Sonia Cheema)