Ola co-founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal on Friday said in the post-COVID world, the industry would have to build mobility solutions that are cleaner and make people feel safe as they resume regular travel.
Speaking at the India Global Week 2020, Aggarwal said the ride-hailing company is also focussing on electrifying small cars, two-wheelers and three-wheelers given that these vehicles outnumber the large vehicles sold globally.
He said once the situation normalises, people will need to move around, and that is when the need for cleaner, safer and more accessible mobility solutions would be “even more relevant”.
“So the onus is actually on the industry to build those kinds of solutions, where the average citizen feels safe, to build solutions which are actually cleaner since this (pandemic) has been such a big disruption in our normal way of life. The industry, I believe, can actually take a very different path forward to a much more cleaner, climate-conscious future and move this global industry forward in that direction,” he said.
He noted that technologies around electrification are getting to a point where they make business sense.
“So we’re already seeing countries, especially in the European Union, the UK, and even India actually taking the lead to nudge the industry and also provide an enabling platform for an accelerated transition to electric mobility. So that’s another area where we are also pushing a lot for the future,” he said.
“…the number of small vehicles be it small cars, two-wheelers and three-wheelers far exceeds the number of large format car sold in the world, and far exceeds in total volume, and actually total energy consumed also…electric mobility is incomplete unless you solve from a technology standpoint and a business model standpoint…that’s what Ola is focussed on, we are focussed on electrifying the small car, two-wheelers, three-wheelers etc,” he said.
Aggarwal said Ola’s acquisition of Etergo is the start in that direction.
“…we will definitely be launching that across Europe and bringing that technology into India also…our ambition is to make sure that the world is not incomplete in terms of electric solutions, not just solving for large vehicles but solving for electrifying mobility,” he said.
In May, Ola had announced the acquisition of Amsterdam-based Etergo BV by its electric mobility arm Ola Electric Mobility (OEM). While the deal value was not disclosed, OEM had said it aimed to launch electric two-wheelers in India in 2021, and that the acquisition of Etergo will further bolster its engineering and design capabilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the business of companies like Uber and Ola as the number of rides have fallen drastically. In May, Ola had announced laying off 1,400 staff from its rides, financial services and food business saying its revenues had declined by 95 per cent in the previous two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In an email to employees, Aggarwal had made it clear that the prognosis ahead for the business was “very unclear and uncertain” and the impact of the crisis was going to be “long-drawn”.