It was fantastic to see Bhavish Aggarwal standing on top of the OLA Future factory and a drone capturing the scene showing the scale of the building. OLA is ushering in Industry 4.0 with smart manufacturing that focuses heavily on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data.
The factory will make 10 million electric scooters a year, which is the kind of scale we have never seen in the Indian two wheeler industry and we are excited that this factory will churn out electric two wheelers and not dirty pollution causing oil guzzlers.
20 million two wheelers are sold each year and Bhavish says selling these many petrol scooters is unsustainable. For the first time there is awareness being made that India cannot keep using petrol two wheelers. No one in the two wheeler industry nor media speaks about pollution caused by petrol two wheelers. It was very refreshing to listen to Bhavish denouncing dirty, noisy pollution scooters, something we at PluginIndia have been doing for many years.
We hope this presentation by Bhavish would convince many people to quit their oil habit and stop blindly buying pollution scooters.
Bhavish then shows the OLA S1, where a lady in black jacket and gloves zooms in the OLA Scooter which reaches a speed of 115 kmph! We then are inside the future factory where we see an all lady team assembling the OLA S1. What's with the feminism here? Was this faked? You guys tell me :)
Bhavish speaks about the Design of the S1. The design has not changed since the Etergo app scooter was revealed back in 2018 by the Netherlands based Etergo team which OLA purchased in 2020. The scooter has a groundbreaking design architecture because in a normal scooter there is a tube frame as part of its chassis that takes up a lot of space. The OLA S1 uses a monocoque frame, where even the outside section also is part of the frame, which makes it stronger. This monocoque design enables you to place the battery in the footboard, which gives a lot of storage space both under the seat and a large glove compartment. Of Course Bhavish did not speak about the technical merits of the monocoque design and just spoke about the alien eye headlights, colors and boot space.
Nor did he speak about the design architecture which enabled the removable banana shaped battery. The Etergo team showed us back in 2018, how easy it was to remove and carry the banana shaped battery. During the reveal, where Bhavish was standing, those batteries were displayed on the shelves and yet OLA have not made them removable in the production version. Why did they opt for a fixed battery design? Maybe OLA wanted to be seen as being different? Or they anticipated issues with careless use, battery pack drops etc? We will never know, until we speak to them. This decision to have a fixed battery has disappointed many in the community and out of the lakh or so bookings, we estimate 50-60000 people will switch to Simple Energy, PURE or other brands which offer removable batteries.
The battery is a 3.97 kWh pack for the OLA S1 Pro. We got some inside information that there will be 3 banana shaped battery modules in the S1 Pro. This also enables us to deduce that OLA S1 will have 2 modules for a total capacity of 2.98 kWh which is a decent capacity. Atulji and Kamlesh have been using the PURE EV eTrance NEO for many months and that scooter has a 2.5 kWh battery pack which gives 100 km on normal driving at 40 to 50 kmph speeds. So if you ride the OLA S1 at those speeds, you can definitely get100 km range.
Next Bhavish speaks about the performance with the 8.5 kW peak power motor! This is larger than the peak power delivered by even the Ather 450X’s motor! The S1 has some cool features like Reverse, Hill Hold and Cruise control mode. These are normal features in electric scooters. To many petrol scooter owners who don't know much about electric scooters, these features may seem revolutionary. But for us, these were expected.
Software & MOVE OS
Next to the most exciting and promising technology in the OLA S1. Bhavish speaks to us about MOVE OS, their operating system that drives the user interface on the 7 inch touch screen. The computer that runs the OS has 3GB RAM and an octa core processor and is Wifi and Bluetooth enabled. We love the ‘Moods’ feature which is similar to the faces of an Apple watch. Where the 7 inch touch screen will sport different themes which will ensure every ride can look different. Also the S1 has an external speaker, so each theme or mood will sound different.
Bhavish also showed how you can add widgets to your dash and customize your dash with moods and widgets. Every OLA Scooter owner’s screen will look different and this distinguishes the OLA S1 from every scooter in the market that has a static dash layout that can never be changed during the life of the scooter! We love this option for individualization and personalization!
At the end we loved the clarion call by Bhavish to two wheeler owners and manufacturers to stop using and making pollution two wheelers. He also announced “mission electric”, where all of us should switch to electric by 2025. Bhavish delivered this statement with passion and commitment towards electric vehicles that is not seen by leaders of the Indian two wheeler industry.
AND WE LOVED IT!
- Bhavish nor the OLA electric website spoke about the battery and vehicle warranty
- They have not mentioned any annual subscription costs anywhere on their website. The last thing OLA owners need is a Rs 4500 rupee bill each year after the first year. This is what Chetak owners are facing. Ather has always been transparent about the annual fee, while OLA is not transparent about this and that is concerning.
- OLA electric are getting bookings from all parts of India. How will they service every scooter? A plan on servicing was totally ignored during the presentation. You can’t treat an electric scooter as an appliance.
- Bhavish never spoke about the Etergo Dutch team that engineered all the amazing features of the OLA S1. Many features we saw like touchscreen, speakers, widgets, design were all developed by the Dutch team. But in the presentation he spoke as if it was OLA who developed the scooter.
- Also there are thousands of European backers/investors who invested money in Etergo and who are now left hanging dry by OLA’s acquisition.The European backers/investors are considering legal options against Etergo founders who sold the company to OLA without considering their opinion. We hope OLA wont get dragged into this mess. The best thing for OLA to do is to reach out to them and deliver the S1 scooter to them in the future. That is the right thing to do. We will see how things pan out here. Here is the link to the FB group of the investors for you guys.
- Also it looks like the Dutch founders of Etergo seem to have moved on from their roles at OLA. That is a shame. Such good engineering and design talent should have been retained by OLA at any cost for development of future products.
There were some technical aspects or servicing related information that should have been given out. All in all the launch event was very well done. The presentation was top class. It reminded us of Apple events! The OLA S1 scooter really will be one of the coolest scooters in town. And it has been engineered for over 5 years, so it will work well for most users.
The challenges for OLA will be servicing and it remains to be seen how they will manage the dealerless model.
OLA Electric Website