Ola Wants One Million Electric Vehicles in India

The largest ride-hailing business in India has very ambitious plans of putting one million electric vehicles on the polluted streets of the country.

Ola, the biggest rival to Uber in India, announced on Monday that its first step would be the rolling out of 10,000 electric-powered rickshaws across several cities during the upcoming 12 months.

The ubiquitous taxis with three wheels are normally gas powered and Ola wants its drivers to move to new battery-powered ones.

The company is planning to hit a target of one million by 2021.

The startup, based in Bangalore and backed by bigtime investors like SoftBank in Japan, has not elaborated on how it is planning to grow its fleet of electric vehicles so quickly.

Its intentions are to work with makers of vehicles, government both local and at the state level and makers of batteries on its initiative.

Ola at present has over one million drivers in 110 cities across India, so its plan means electrifying most of the vehicles that are currently available on its app.

The government of India holds its own ambitions of electrifying things. Its goal is to turn most if not all vehicles on the roads of the country electric in 12 years, but several challenges are faced by the country to achieve such an objective, including expensive technology for makers of cars and a lack of overall infrastructure.

Already Ola runs over 200 electric vehicles in Nagpur a city in the west under a new pilot project started close to one year ago.

This project includes electric cars, buses and rickshaws. The company also installed solar panels on rooftops, charging stations and terminals for battery swapping across the city.

On Monday, Ola said that its vehicles in Nagpur thus far have clocked over four million kilometers or 2.5 million miles.

Electric fleets are being boosted by several ride-hailing companies. China’s dominant player Didi Chuxing has started to offer sharing of electric cars in partnership with a dozen companies that include Renault, Nissan and Kia.

Didi wants an electric vehicle fleet of one million by 2020, a year prior to Ola. Last November, Didi’s fleet of fully or partially electric vehicles was at over 260,000 according to company officials.

Uber has purchased electric vehicles in the hundreds from Mahindra, an India based carmaker that is the only company selling them to consumers directly. Ola currently in leading the fierce battle with U.S. based Uber to control the huge market in India.