To further strengthen its operations in India, Softbank-backed Ola is turning to viable, sustainable transportation options. The ride-hailing giant is now planning to introduce electric cabs in the country. The cab aggregator which is currently facing a hard time due to aggressive competition prevailing in the market is soon to pilot the project across major cities. Although it has denied naming the cities proposed for the project, the pilot phase is expected to begin in the next three months.
The successful roll out of this project would mean an end to repetitive driver disputes with the ride-hailing giant. Electric cabs certainly mean no income (almost negligible) to be deployed towards fuel and this, in turn, would benefit the cabbies. The incentive drop which caused massive criticism across India and was even the cause of prolonged protests in cities like Bengaluru.
Discussing the project with LiveMint, Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO, Ola said,
There is a lot of focus on electric vehicles. We shall be rolling out electric cabs in top cities in three months.
He further added that the decision to scale up the project will depend on user feedback, which the company receives during the pilot phase. Moreover, about a few months back, SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son discussed his brilliant and ambitious action plan for India. On a two-day trip to India, the latter met with founders of successful ventures the telecommunications giant has invested in over the past couple years.
He then stated his wish to contribute a million electric cars, manufactured in India, to drivers working at Ola for free. Witnessing the deadly problem of increasing pollution and lack of electric cars in the country, he took the generous decision. Masayoshi Son had also committed almost $10 billion to the country for the next 10 years.
The said move will aid the government’s failing attempts to push the sales of electric cars. Apart from creating awareness, it would also lower energy import bills for the country, which are expected to cross $300 million by 2030. Currently, the Indian government has an ambitious target to sell six million electric vehicles by 2020. However, factors such as high vehicle costs, power outages, and a scarcity of facilities for eco-friendly disposal of batteries inhibit the populace from buying electric vehicles.
So far, Ola has raised $1.23 billion including the last capital gain of $350 Mn fromSoftbank at a valuation of $3.5 billion.The company has scored funding from multiple investors, namely SoftBank, Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital and Matrix Partners. Prior to the recent fund raise, the startup had consolidated — cut back on operation costs and reduced burn rates due to lack of investments.