Ola, Uber Technologies Inc.’s fiercest Indian competitor, wants to roll out 10,000 electric three-wheeled rickshaws within a year and a million battery-powered vehicles by 2021.
The startup run by ANI Technologies Pvt said it’s in policy discussions with several state governments, and is talking with potential partners from automakers to battery producers. It aims to build out an existing pilot project in the central Indian city of Nagpur, where Ola’s first EVs have already travelled more than 4 million kilometres.
Ola’s ambitions dovetail with the Indian government’s objectives. PM Narendra Modi plans to significantly increase the number of new energy vehicles on the road. The power ministry in March said Modi had directed senior ministers to ensure that by 2030 most vehicles in India would be powered by electricity.
The auto industry however is seeking clarity on how the world’s second-most populous nation will achieve that goal, which would require significant investment and incentives.
Ola’s pilot in Nagpur encompasses a range of electric vehicles from cabs to so-called three-wheelers: the inexpensive, ubiquitous ride for many middle-class Indians. The project also includes a fleet of buses, rooftop solar installations, charging stations and battery-swapping experiments.
The startup, founded in 2011 by engineers Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, has in recent months gone on an expansion spree: buying delivery service Foodpanda’s Indian operations, taking its ride-hailing service to Australia and acquiring Mumbai-based public transport ticketing app Ridlr. Ola’s ride summoning services cover 110 Indian cities with over a million drivers.