In this episode of Electric Car Watch, we will talk about India’s most talked about EV startup, Ola Electric and their electric car plans, their large investment in Coventry, UK and also the challenges in creating an electric car from the scratch.
Bhavish Agarwal, the founder of OLA Electric, tweeted an image of the OLA Electric Car Concept, and it created quite a sensation on twitter. When I first saw it, the car resembled both a giant computer mouse and a real mouse. Very cool looking, I must add.
For a change, we are seeing an electric hatchback in plans. The Indian traditional BIG ICE car companies are very cleverly avoiding launching small electric cars to protect their ICE car business. If the OLA Electric car becomes a reality, then the ICE car companies will have to launch small electric cars. You never know, this tweet from Bhavish Agarwal must have accelerated their plans already. This is how disruption is caused and we love it that startups like OLA Electric have the financial means to take on the BIG ICE car industry.
Here are some of my observations on the OLA Electric Car concept
We asked our very own Atul on his thoughts on the car
They announced the setup of the Ola Futurefoundry, a global center for advanced engineering and vehicle design. This center will be based in Coventry, the UK, which is a global hub for some of the best automotive design and engineering talent in the world.
They have said that the UK and Indian teams will work on 2W and 4W vehicle design, advanced high-performance automotive engineering, digital & physical modeling, and more. It will also house talent that will focus on vehicle R&D around new energy systems including cell technologies. Ola will invest over US$100M over the next 5 years into the state-of-the-art center and staff it with over 200 designers and automotive engineers.
Bhavish Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Ola said
"At Ola we are building the future of mobility and continue to attract the best global talent across disciplines. Ola Futurefoundry will enable us to tap into the fantastic automotive design & engineering talent in the UK to create the next generation of electric vehicles. Futurefoundry will work in close collaboration with our headquarters in Bangalore, India to help us build the future of mobility as we make EVs affordable across the world."
"We want to create a world class design and R&D team with global sensibilities. We are setting up in Coventry a global epicenter of automotive and technology talent. Futurefoundry will supplement and collaborate with our core team in Bangalore, India to deliver exciting new EVs across two-wheeler, four-wheeler and other form factors.” said Wayne Burgess, Vice President of Vehicle Design, Ola Electric.
Wayne Burgess was the Design Director at Jaguar Land Rover, who worked under the legendary designer Ian Callum, who was instrumental in the design of the Jaguar iPace.
If that is the kind of experience the OLA team is getting, then we can expect beautiful vehicle designs in the coming years.
- Creating a design is the easy part. In the real world an electric car design will need to offer fantastic interior space, superb handling characteristics, the reaction from steering input should be instantaneous, the suspension should handle Indian roads and you should shift the torque continuously from front to rear. You should think about having a low center of gravity and also think about stability control - the ability to use one or more electric motors to shift torque and regain traction. The dashboard layout can be conventional or modern.
The design work will need to consider all of the above.
- Then an electric car will have airbags, HVAC systems and more. You have the power electronics, telematics units, high voltage systems and more. A lot of systems will need to be developed from scratch. We feel the team in Coventry lead by Ex Jaguar guys will be in-charge of the development of the platform. Creation of the platform should be the first priority for the team. The high voltage platform should support large battery packs, faster charging rates, higher motor power and more.
- Once a platform design is ready, then there are more challenges like Indian vendor management, localization, certification and more.
There are many considerations to be taken for the OLA Electric team and we feel the OLA electric car will be production ready by say in 2025 and even then may take a year or so to get ready for operations. The easier option for OLA Electric would have been to buy a struggling Swedish startup like Uniti who have done a lot of ground work on their car and then develop it to get into production sooner. Something like what they did with Etergo with their electric scooter. But I guess OLA Electric wants to be a real player in the EV space and in order to be taken seriously, they will need to create a product from the grounds up.
Of course the car announcement from OLA electric has shaken many journalists from the Pollution Vehicle media. We saw condescending tweets and articles from auto journalists to mobile phone reviewers and also finance websites. But let’s not go there. The pollution vehicle media can cry all day long but it's just a matter of time before they will have to accept the imminent rise and domination of the electric car.
We are not expecting anything anytime soon
We at PluginIndia are not expecting anything soon from Ola Electric on the car. Hiring experienced people from the global auto industry is positive. Also tapping into the talent pool in Coventry, UK is also a definite plus. But there is a long way to go before we will see the OLA electric car on Indian roads. We have seen startups like Uniti not produce even a single production electric car in more than 7 years. Whatever happens we wish the OLA Electric team the best and hope to see updates in the coming years.
Thanks for watching. Do write in the comments below on your thoughts on the OLA Electric Car. I will see you next week.
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