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Bhavish Aggarwal-led Ola Electric starts work on building electric cars

According to sources, the SoftBank-backed company is gearing up to launch its electric car by 2024

Ola | Ola electric vehicles | Electric Vehicles

Peerzada Abrar  |  Bengaluru 

Bhavish Aggarwal
Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO, Ola

After raising over $200 mn from investors at a $5 billion valuation, Electric, the ride-hailing firm’s electric vehicle (EV) arm, has started the work to make electric cars.

“Making electric four wheelers is the next focus for founder Bhavish Aggarwal and the work on this is seriously underway,” said a person familiar with Ola’s strategy. “This includes setting up a factory to build the electric cars.”

According to sources, the SoftBank-backed company is gearing up to launch its electric car by 2024. Aggarwal on Tuesday posted an image of an EV on Twitter that looks like the design concept for the upcoming electric car. “Can you guys keep a secret?,” Aggarwal tweeted.

According to the sources, Wayne Burgess, who was hired last year as head of vehicle design at Ola Electric for its entire product range including scooters, bikes and cars, would be leading a team along with top engineers for making the electric car.

Burgess brings a wealth of international automotive design experience, having worked on some of the most legendary and iconic cars in automotive 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 others. People familiar with the matter said Burgess will bring global appeal, and design aesthetics and his expertise in designing some of the most legendary vehicles will also be helpful in bringing these new form factors to consumers.

Burgess has spent almost three decades designing vehicles for the majority of British premium automotive manufacturers, from Rolls Royce and Bentley in his early career, to Aston Martin and Jaguar Landrover to, more recently, Lotus. Notably, he was the chief designer for the Jaguar F-Type sports car, and then studio director for the Jaguar F-Pace SUV.

Last year Ola made key leadership appointments across Ola Financial Services, Ola Cars, and Ola Electric. These executives are expected to play a key role in Ola’s vision for electric car. Among them is V Ramesh, who had joined as the VP and Head of Operations at the Ola Futurefactory. Ramesh brings with him over three decades of experience in the areas of production, quality, design & development, 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 with Hyundai Motor and Kia, Yongsung brings global automotive sales experience from around the world, including North America, Europe, UK, Middle East, Africa, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Asia Pacific. In India he had spent several years, first with Hyundai Motor and then with Kia, to build their market-leading presence in India. In 2020, the firm had appointed Julien Geffard as the director of the go-to-market strategy for its electric business in Europe. Before joining Ola, Geffard was the global commercial director and a member of the Board of Management at Peugeot Motorcycles. Geffard had a very successful stint at Bentley Motors Ltd as their head of sales and then as head of retail marketing, Europe. He has 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 of the future of mobility - New Mobility, which included products ranging from electric scooters, cars to drones and flying cars. In India, just 2 per cent (30 million) people own a four-wheeler and only 12 per cent (160 million) own a two-wheeler. He had said that means more than a billion people in India have been shut out of 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 last 12 months, Ola Electric has built the Futurefactory, the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturing facility, Ola S1.

This funding is expected to help Ola accelerate development of other vehicle platforms, including electric motorbike, mass market scooter and its electric car. The funding will further strengthen Ola’s ‘Mission Electric’, which urges the industry and consumers to commit to electric and ensure that no petrol two-wheelers should be sold in India after 2025.

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First Published: Tue, January 25 2022. 20:58 IST