Ola Electric, led by Bhavish Aggarwal, starts building electric cars
After raising more than $200 million from investors at a $5 billion valuation, Ola Electric, the electric vehicle (EV) arm of the ridesharing company, has begun work to manufacture electric cars.
“Making four-wheeled electric vehicles is the next goal of Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal and work on this is seriously underway,” said a person familiar with Ola’s strategy. “That includes setting up a factory to build the electric cars.”
Sources say the SoftBank-backed company is gearing up to launch its electric car by 2024. Aggarwal posted an image of an electric vehicle on Twitter on Tuesday that resembles the design concept for the upcoming Ola electric car. “Can you keep a secret? tweeted Aggarwal.
According to the sources, Wayne Burgess, who was hired last year as head of vehicle design at Ola Electric for its entire product line, including scooters, bikes and cars, would lead a team with the best engineers to make the electric car.
Burgess brings extensive international automotive design experience, having worked on some of the most legendary and iconic cars in motoring history, including the Bentley Arnage in 1998, Aston Martin’s DB9 in the mid-2000s and more recently the Jaguar XF, F-Type, F-Pace SUV, XE and many more. People familiar with the matter said Burgess will bring global appeal, and the design aesthetics and expertise in designing some of the most legendary vehicles will also come in handy in bringing these new form factors to consumers.
Burgess has spent nearly three decades designing vehicles for the majority of high-end British car manufacturers, from Rolls Royce and Bentley early in his career, to Aston Martin and Jaguar Landrover to, more recently, Lotus. He was notably the chief designer of the Jaguar F-Type sports car, then studio director for the Jaguar F-Pace SUV.
Last year, Ola made key leadership appointments at Ola Financial Services, Ola Cars and Ola Electric. These leaders are expected to play a key role in Ola’s vision for the electric car. Among them is V Ramesh, who had joined as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Ola Futurefactory. Ramesh brings with him over three decades of production, quality, design and development experience, having previously worked at Toyota, Maruti Suzuki, Lucas TVS and TATA Hitachi.
Ola had also appointed Yongsung Kim as head of global sales and distribution, overseeing India and international markets. A 35-year veteran of Hyundai Motor and Kia, Yongsung brings global automotive sales experience around the world, including North America, Europe, UK, Middle East, Africa, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Asia-Pacific. In India, he had spent several years, first at Hyundai Motor and then at Kia, establishing their leading presence in the Indian market. In 2020, the firm appointed Julien Geffard as director of go-to-market strategy for its electrical business in Europe. Prior to joining Ola, Geffard was Global Commercial Director and Board Member of Peugeot Motorcycles. Geffard had a very successful stint at Bentley Motors Ltd as Sales Manager and later as Retail Marketing Manager, Europe. He also worked with Alpine and BMW, where he was responsible for positioning the famous Mini in France as a leading luxury brand.
Last year, Aggarwal shared his vision for the future of mobility – New Mobility, which included products ranging from electric scooters, cars to drones and flying cars. In India, only 2% (30 million) people own a four-wheeler and only 12% (160 million) own a two-wheeler. He had said that this means that more than a billion people in India have been excluded from mobility by this system.
This week, Ola Electric has raised over $200 million from Tekne Private Ventures, Alpine Opportunity Fund, Edelweiss and others. The latest round values the company at $5 billion, an increase from its previous valuation of $3 billion. Over the past 12 months, Ola Electric has built the Futurefactory, the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturing plant, Ola S1.
This funding is expected to help Ola accelerate the development of other vehicle platforms, including the electric motorcycle, consumer scooter and its electric car. The funding will further bolster Ola’s ‘Mission Electric’, which urges industry and consumers to go electric and ensure that no gas-powered two-wheelers are sold in India after 2025.