Bhavish Aggarwal, founder and chief executive officer of Ola, has said granting special incentives to Tesla in India will not be in the best interests of the country. “Tesla is free to come in and put up shop here and sell its cars,” Aggarwal told the Financial Times in an interview.
Tesla wants to be treated differently from others, “which I believe is not in the interests of India”, FT quoted him as saying. Tesla has not started manufacturing operations in India, and founder Elon Musk tweeted in May that “Tesla will not put a manufacturing plant in any location where we are not allowed first to sell & service cars”.
Since Ola launched in 2010 as a ride-hailing app, it has expanded into other services, such as deliveries, used-car sales and selling insurance. It founded Ola Electric, an electric mobility company, in 2017, buying Dutch electric scooter startup Etergo in May 2020 for an undisclosed sum. The company is now India’s biggest producer of electric scooters, with total sales of over 50,000. It competes against India’s top conglomerates in the electric vehicles sector, FT said.
Ola began deliveries of its first rechargeable scooters in December 2021, with thousands of customers reserving scooters in July. But after one scooter caught fire in March, Ola recalled the batch of 1,400. Aggarwal, however, told FT that the incident was “isolated”, adding: “In very, very rare cases this can happen as have happened with other manufacturers of other EVs.” He said Ola was cooperating with a government investigation launched in March into electric scooter fires. He played down a string of high-level exits from across the group, including its chief operating officer last October.
“We have a very strong management layer across both our companies,” Aggarwal said. Aggarwal’s plans to take Ola public this year have also been set back, as global tech valuations tumble with the US Fed raising interest rates. “My efforts are to take it IPO within the next one-year rough timeline,” Aggarwal said. “But again, it can move up and down, the markets are volatile.”