Happy to debate with Rajiv Bajaj on live platform, says Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal

Happy to debate with Rajiv Bajaj on live platform, says Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal

In an interview with ANI, Aggarwal narrated how his new electric vehicle company was not seen as a disruptor about four years back with big players being almost dismissive and how its market share in two-wheeler electric vehicles has grown to nearly 50 per cent.

“When we started the EV, it was completely out of nowhere for the industry. We started our Ola Electric journey about four years back, just around COVID. And before that, I was building my ride-hailing company, which does really well now. But four years ago, we added a sister business called Ola Electric. At that time, no one was doing anything in EV in India. And it was happening in the world. Tesla is an iconic company. In the West, it was growing its stature and sales….We started with the mission and the purpose that India has to be a part of the global EV solution,” he said.

“One of our generation’s biggest challenges and opportunities is to truly build a sustainable paradigm for living. Not broadly living actually, right? Sustainable energy, sustainable mobility, everything so that we can have a clean earth. Now the world cannot achieve its sustainability ambitions without India because India is 20 per cent of the world by numbers and a growing percentage of the world’s growth. So our purpose with Ola Electric was to make India a global EV hub or a global new energy hub. We started off four years ago. We were the new kid on the block in that industry. And the automotive industry in India is a very, if I can use the word, staid,” he added.

Aggarwal said there were only few players and very little innovation, especially in the two-wheeler segment.

“The auto rickshaw you’re sitting in in India, the design is still 60 years old. You feel it when you sit in the backseat and the driver sits. It’s a very bad ergonomic design because no one has ever innovated…innovation was flat and it was only about sales. We do all our product launches on August 15. So on August 15, 2021, we launched our first product. We showed the world our vision and we launched it and it was to be delivered six months after that. So I thought, when we did that, the incumbents, which is the traditional Indian two-wheeler companies, Bajaj, TVS, Hero, Royal Enfield. new kid on the block has come in, they didn’t even acknowledge me as a disruptor back then. They were dismissive,” he said.

“As they say there are six stages of acceptance…it started from there. So, Mr Bajaj, in his wisdom, said ‘breakfast of Champions is OATS’. This was three years ago or so, when I launched. I didn’t answer then. I said, let’s do it first. And these are good companies, traditionally very strong companies, and they have helped India build an automotive ecosystem, so I have respect for them. But when something like this is said, it comes to notice and we are also Punjabis…so we started, then we started gaining market share. Today our market share in two-wheeler EVs is 50 per cent, which in the automotive world is fairly unprecedented for one company to have this kind of market share. And our market share month on month, quarter on quarter keeps increasing last few months if you see,” he added.

By OATS, Rajiv Bajaj apparently alluded to EV newbies then–Ola, Ather, Torq and SmartE (OATS).

Aggarwal said he responded to it a few months back.

“Three-four months back, I also gave tongue-in-cheek comment that if you have oats, I also have ICE in my drink. And ICE is Internal Combustion Engine. Old technology. Because EV (electric vehicle) is a new paradigm completely. And we have our tagline of the company of Ola Electric, which is ‘End Ice Age’. So that’s the backstory but on a forward-looking note, I actually feel it’s a great opportunity for India. If you look at the world, the world, the Western companies like Tesla etc. are good in building luxury cars. But in India, the luxury car market is small. And India is a great microcosm for the global south. Whether it’s Indonesia or Latin America, or Africa. In all these countries, which is 60-70 per cent of the world’s population, you will be selling two-wheelers, three-wheelers, small cars. So there’s no global champion company for these vehicles.”

Asked if industralists and entreprenuers can have debates like the presidential debates in the United States, Aggarwal said he is willing for it.

“I’m up for it. I’m up for it…I’m happy to debate with Rajiv Bajaj. I’m happy to debate on a live platform,” he said.

Answering a query, Aggarwal said he has been “a disruptor multiple times”.

He said there should be more public discourse in India because sometimes the people have a traditional mindset of using and adopting technology, not creating technologies.

Bhavish Aggarwal has also founded Krutrim, an Artificial Intellignce startup.

First Published Date: 08 Jul 2024, 06:47 AM IST

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