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Ola To Hire 2,000 To Fuel Electric Venture

Ride-hailing firm Ola aims to double the current headcount of around 2,000 people at its electric vehicle (EV) business in the next six months, said two people aware of the developments, which will potentially make it the largest vertical in the company.

As part its EV ambitions, SoftBank Group-backed Ola is scouting for a location to build a 2 million-unit-a-year electric scooter manufacturing plant in India, said two insiders aware of the development, adding that it aims to sell at least a million scooters in the first year of operation.

Ola plans to tap the expertise of Dutch electric two-wheeler maker Etergo BV that it had acquired in May for its entry into EV manufacturing.

“Ola Electric will hire around 2,000 people in India and globally in senior positions in manufacturing, product development, design and marketing for their EV business,” said one of the two people cited above, requesting anonymity. “The company is looking for people with the right experience and global expertise who can help build this (EV).”

Ola has about 4,000 staff across verticals comprising mobility, food, EV and financial services.

Earlier this week, Ola announced the appointment of General Motors veteran Jose Pinheiro to lead its EV arm. This followed last month’s appointment of Julien Geffard as the EV vertical’s go-to-market director for Europe.

The plans underscore the Bengaluru-based startup’s bullish outlook of the EV business globally, where covid and fear of infection is leading more people to opt for personal mobility. Ola and other mobility startups such as Uber, Bounce and Vogo are also hoping to gain from the growing preference for EVs by food and grocery delivery firms, e-retailers and shared-mobility startups seeking to control costs and reduce carbon footprint in one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce markets.

India’s EV market received a shot in the arm when the government recently allowed their sale and registration without batteries to drive adoption of green vehicles.

A deeper presence in the EV market will benefit Ola, which was forced to lay off hundreds of employees at its core ride-hailing business earlier this year.

Ola Electric’s electric two-wheeler will be a reconfigured version of Etergo’s App Scooter, with software integration, including Ola Play, and locally manufactured hardware, including NavIC, the Indian global positioning system.

Etergo, which was acquired by Ola Electric, will launch the App Scooter, both in Europe and in Asia, including India next year.

The two people cited above said more workers would also be hired for the new manufacturing plant.

Though Ola is mainly focused on rolling out its electric scooter, it also plans to grow the portfolio by adding other two-wheeler categories such as mopeds and motorcycles, and later three- and four-wheelers, said the second person cited above.

Bhavish Agarwal, co-founder and chairman of Ola, said in August that the company will hire globally for its EV arm that was valued at more than $1 billion when it last raised $250 million from Japan’s SoftBank in July 2019.