India’s electric two-wheeler market (E2W) has probably witnessed sharper turns than a MotoGP racetrack during CY22. This year started with Okinawa and Hero Electric as India’s leading electric scooter-selling OEMs. However, come December 2022, that tag now belongs to Bhavish Aggarwal-led Ola Electric.
As of 19 December 2022, Ola Electric retailed 100,993 E2Ws, followed by Okinawa at 99,551 units, Hero Electric at 94,351 and Hero MotoCorp-backed Ather at 48,250 units. Saurav Kumar, Managing Director, Protiviti Member Firm for India, believes that Ola Electric has already created a buzz, not only with its offering but also its sustainability commitments and ambitious plans.
Speaking to Mobility Outlook, he said, “Being a shared mobility leader in India, Ola understands the dynamics of the country’s mobility market. The company is using the same knowledge in its electric scooter business,”
Subhabrata Sengupta, Executive Director, Avalon Consulting, pointing towards Ather Energy, noted that the start-up hasn’t been able to do well in terms of retail in the market because many end-consumers do not want to spend more than INR 100,000 on an electric scooter. Notably, Ola, Okinawa, and Hero Electric have products under the INR 100,000 price, but Ather does not.
Okinawa & Hero Electric Under Government Scanner
Previous leaders of the E2W retail race, Okinawa and Hero Electric are under the Government’s scanner for failing to comply with the FAME-II regulations. Various reports have suggested that the Government has also stopped subsidies to Okinawa.
“This has resulted in price hikes by 30-50%, eventually hitting sales,” Kumar explained.
Okinawa registered 8,678 E2Ws in August, 8,499 in September, 14,942 in October, and 9,061 in November this year. On the other hand, Hero Electric registered 10,602 electric scooters in August, 8,201 in September, 8,868 in October, and 9,014 in November this calendar. (See Figure 1).
However, it is not just the Government scanner that might have helped Ola become the numero uno player. The start-up has announced a slew of year-end offers and benefits on its S1 and S1 Pro electric scooters. These include zero down payment, lower interest rates and EMIs, free access to Ola’s hyper charger network and free servicing for a year. Kumar is of the view that these offers will help them to carry its brand loyalty and sustain itself in the market.
“Ola is providing more lucrative offers which are listed on its online websites like 5% discount on credit card EMI, reduced interest rates and many more which is helping it to create brand value than the already established brands like hero electrics and Okinawa,” he said.
Ola Has Renewed Customer Trust
Not long ago, Ola was plagued with quality aspects due to several incidents of fire and malfunction being reported in the media. It becomes clear from the numbers that till recently, the start-up was not doing good.
“The surge in recent sales showcases the renewed trust of the customer in Ola Electric,” Kumar said.
Notably, from registering 3,474 electric scooters in August 2022, the start-up saw its sales grow to 9,893 in September, 16,333 in October and 16,341 in November this year.
Sengupta shared that with increased numbers and demand, Ola will have to answer the ‘scalability of a start-up’ problem, and not many start-ups have achieved the same. Though the OEM has already announced its plans to set up a factory that will be able to manufacture over two million electric scooters every year, it is yet to function to its full potential.
“As long as Ola continues to innovate on customer experience aspects of marketing and financing, and ensure high standards of quality and safety, they should be able to maintain their position as one of the top players,” he said.
As for the traditional ICE OEMs, Kumar feels that they are looking at E2W as an additional segment but still want to maintain their leadership position in ICE 2Ws, which is also under much pressure. He explained, “So a lot of their innovations, budget and distribution focus continues on the ICE segment, and this is where E2W exclusives, including Ola, Okinawa and Ather have an edge.”