Shared Mobility, Correct Vehicle Segment Can Fuel EV Uptake in India, Finds Ola

Correct prioritization of vehicle segments for electrification may prove to be critical to the adoption of e-mobility, the report notes


It would make good business sense to focus on developing EVs in the highest demand and utility sectors in the Indian vehicle market for two-wheelers and three-wheelers according to a recent report by  Ola Mobility Institute. The report adds that there is more compelling economics in choosing EVs over private cars for commercial and public transport systems.

The report, titled ‘Beyond Nagpur: The Promise of Electric Mobility,’ offers insights from extensive electric vehicle operations by India’s leading shared mobility provider to help inspire business models, provide data to inform policy and encourage guidelines that will expedite the national effort to adopt electric mobility.

The report has been generated using primary and secondary sources and 18 months of data collected by the company.

Ola highlights that high upfront costs, lack of charging infrastructure and uncertain performance of a battery-powered vehicle may hold back rapid adoption of e-mobility for private users. It further points out that the correct prioritization of vehicle segments for electrification may prove to be critical to the adoption of e-mobility.

The report, which is based on insights from Ola’s EV project in Nagpur, has added that apart from incentivizing the purchase of EVs, incentives based on usage for electric vehicles will accelerate innovation, encourage early adopters, enable new business models, and promote low-cost shared mobility services.

It further notes that the highest proportions of passenger-kilometers traveled are by public and shared vehicles.  It pointed out that in India, the largest fleets in the country are maintained by government agencies, civic bodies, and app-based aggregators.

Ola has also underlined that shared public and commercial electric vehicles are better poised to bring down the total cost of ownership as opposed to an EV being used as a personal vehicle.

The Ola report has added that its pilot has shown substantial potential for battery swapping as a reliable charging mechanism for small format vehicles while suggesting the usage of renewable energy to power EV infrastructure which also helps in reducing average electricity expenses.

In March 2018, Mercom had reported on the National E-Mobility Program which aims to achieve 100 percent e-mobility by 2030. Since then, the country has taken several policy initiatives to propel the growth of electric mobility in the country.

The union cabinet had approved the implementation of a program titled ‘Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India Phase II (FAME India Phase II) with a total budget of ₹100 billion ($1.41 billion). The duration of the program is three years with effect from April 1, 2019.

For the three and four-wheeled electric vehicles (e-3W and e-4W) segment, incentives will be applicable mainly for vehicles used for public transport or registered for commercial purposes.

“The Nagpur pilot was designed to provide the first-hand experience to inform a viable business model for electric vehicles at scale,” said OMI Senior Vice President and Head Anand Shah.

”We are convinced that the growing base of renewable energy combined with sound policy measures to promote high utilization of electric vehicles can make India an exemplar for a market-based electric vehicle ecosystem,” added Shah.

It is imperative to note here that the swapping of lithium-ion batteries during the Nagpur pilot had increased the available operating time for three wheelers by 25% as compared to fixed battery systems, the OMI report has stated while adding that the operating time was increased up to 50% when compared to a lead-acid battery.

In March 2019, carmakers Hyundai Motors and Kia Motors announced that they were going to invest $300 million in cab aggregation service provider Ola.

Recently, Ola Electric Mobility also raised a sum of ₹400 billion ($56.4 million) led by several of Ola’s early investors including, Tiger Global and Matrix India and others, as part of its first round of investment.