In a riveting race to dethrone the internal combustion engine (ICE) in India, Bhavish Aggarwal, the self-proclaimed Elon Musk of the East, is steering Ola Electric on a rollercoaster ride that seems more like a dangerous act than a smooth transition to a cleaner future.
Ola, the Tesla of two-wheelers, has boasted a meteoric rise, going from zero to 338,000 e-scooter sales in just two years, but before we break out the confetti, it seems Ola’s journey is bumpier than a ride through Mumbai’s pothole-riddled streets.
The Ola Electric Where Service Woes Meets Indifference
Ola’s nationwide network of over 400 service hubs is slowly emerging as the struggling underdog in this electric revolution where the mechanics at these service centers are gasping for breath, juggling backlogs, and wrestling with repair waiting times ranging from three days to a whopping two weeks.
Ola’s claim of being India’s electric messiah is quickly losing its spark at the service centers; in the bustling city centers of Mumbai, Chennai, and Bengaluru, more than half of these service centers are crying out for help.
Backlogs are the order of the day, with repair waiting times stretching from an inconvenient three days to an exasperating two weeks; it’s a scenario that would make even the most ardent Ola supporters question if they’ve inadvertently signed up for more than they bargained for.
The Thane workshop touted as one of the largest in the Mumbai region, has become an example of the strain that success has put on Ola’s service network – over 100 e-scooters, waiting in line for resuscitation, languish outside in a muddy clearing, perhaps a scene straight out of a post-apocalyptic movie, with vehicles gathering dust and competing for attention with nature in the form of bird droppings.
Devendra Ghuge, the service manager at the Thane center, spills the beans on the escalating chaos. From dealing with 200-300 cases a month just four months ago, the center is now grappling with a staggering 1,000 cases monthly.
It’s a service meltdown of epic proportions, leaving customers stranded and their vehicles gathering more dust than they ever did on the congested Indian roads.
What’s most fascinating is the stark contrast between Aggarwal’s initial promise of same-day service and the current reality of stretched-out waiting times. It’s almost as if Ola’s aggressive expansion plans didn’t account for the inevitable surge in demand for servicing.
Aggarwal, in an attempt to play the hero, acknowledges the capacity issues but assures the public that Ola is “aggressively” addressing the problem by adding more service centers and hiring additional technicians. Because, of course, nothing says “aggressive” like attempting to plug leaks in a sinking ship.
In a classic move of damage control, an Ola spokesperson dismisses reports as not accurately capturing the “scale and quality” of their service operations. It’s the kind of response that leaves one wondering if the scale they’re referring to is the number of disgruntled customers and the quality is the level of frustration experienced by those left waiting for weeks on end.
Ola Electric Fiery Fiascos Light Up the Streets
As Ola Electric hurtles towards its ambitious goal of making every two-wheeler in India electric by 2025, it seems that the road to electrification is paved not only with service-related potholes but also with fiery hazards.
The company, once hailed as the Tesla of the East, is now facing a burning issue that’s hard to extinguish – literally.
The alarming reports of Ola EVs catching fire have sparked concerns among consumers and regulators alike. However, Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola’s founder and CEO, seems to be downplaying the risk, adopting a surprisingly cavalier attitude towards the fiery incidents.
In a Twitter escapade that could be likened to playing with matches in a room full of gasoline, Aggarwal boldly asserts that electric vehicle (EV) fires are a global phenomenon, insinuating that it’s just part and parcel of the electric revolution.
His nonchalant demeanor reached its zenith when he shared a video of a Tata Nexon EV engulfed in flames on a busy road in Vasai, with a casual commentary that EV fires are “much less frequent than ICE fires.”
It’s a curious stance from a leader who should be prioritising safety over snark, especially when EVs are still finding their footing on India’s congested and often treacherous roads.
This isn’t Aggarwal’s first foray into dismissing concerns about Ola EVs. In the past, he engaged in a Twitter spat, responding to critics by sharing a picture of Burnol with the hashtag “petrolmedia.”
This seemingly flippant response raises eyebrows, especially considering the gravity of the situation; with EVs making headlines for all the wrong reasons, one would expect a more measured and responsible approach from the captain of the Ola Electric ship.
The company’s response to the incidents follows a familiar script: blame it on aftermarket parts. In the wake of an EV catching fire in Pune, Ola promptly issued a statement attributing the incident to aftermarket parts that led to a short circuit.
While the statement assures customers that the battery remains intact and functional, it raises questions about the robustness of Ola’s quality control and the safety standards of the components used in their vehicles.
Adding fuel to the fire, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has issued a notice to Ola Electric over the electric scooter fire incidents, giving them 15 days to respond. The government’s involvement emphasises the seriousness of the issue, with regulators now keeping a watchful eye on Ola’s handling of these safety concerns.
As incidents of EVs catching fire become a recurrent theme in India, the government, industry veterans, and consumers are demanding answers. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has warned of penalties for negligent companies and urged EV manufacturers to act responsibly.
However, Ola’s response, marked by Aggarwal’s social media nonchalance and blaming aftermarket parts, raises doubts about the company’s commitment to transparency and accountability.
Bhavish Aggarwal’s Attitude Problem and the Smoke of Unaccountability
In Ola Electric’s rise and many critical issues, Bhavish Aggarwal seems to be steering the company through a series of fiery fiascos with an attitude that’s as shocking as the sparks flying from his electric scooters.
While Aggarwal’s vision for a cleaner, greener India is commendable, his cavalier demeanor and apparent lack of accountability in the face of service and safety issues are raising eyebrows and, in some cases, temperatures.
The most glaring example of Aggarwal’s nonchalant attitude comes to light when addressing the alarming incidents of Ola electric scooters catching fire where instead of assuming a posture of responsibility and urgency, Aggarwal adopts a rather casual tone, downplaying the severity of the situation.
His Twitter escapades, where he likens EV fires to a global phenomenon and dismisses concerns as “mudslinging” by rivals, demonstrate a surprising lack of empathy for consumers who are rightly worried about the safety of their vehicles.
In the midst of this electric inferno, Aggarwal’s response to a Tata Nexon EV catching fire in Vasai is particularly striking. Rather than expressing concern or pledging a thorough investigation, he deems it fit to assert that EV fires are “much less frequent than ICE fires.”
It’s an odd comparison that sidesteps the issue at hand and implies that as long as EVs are catching fire less frequently than traditional vehicles, all is well in the electric utopia.
Aggarwal’s Twitter spats and dismissive remarks, often filled with snark and sarcasm, are also raising questions about his leadership style. A leader is expected to address concerns seriously, especially when the safety of customers is at stake. Instead, Aggarwal seems more interested in Twitter jabs and deflecting criticism than addressing the root causes of service delays and vehicle fires.
Adding another layer to this is Aggarwal’s tendency to blame aftermarket parts for the scooter fires. While it’s not uncommon for companies to identify external factors contributing to incidents, the repeated reliance on this narrative raises doubts about the thoroughness of Ola’s internal investigations and the robustness of their quality control processes.
The lack of accountability becomes even more apparent when Ola Electric issues statements attributing fires to aftermarket parts without providing detailed insights into the specific components involved or the measures being taken to rectify the situation.
This absence of transparency further fuels skepticism and leaves customers in the dark about the safety of their electric rides.
In the ongoing mess that is Ola Electric, where service delays and fiery fiascos take center stage, one can’t help but wonder if the road to a cleaner, electric future is turning out to be more hazardous than anticipated.
Consumers are left grappling with a burning question: is Ola Electric driving towards a green future, or are they merely fanning the flames of a potential PR disaster?
Also, what and how will the service issues be solved?
Ola Electric is surely proving to be an electrifying ride where sparks fly, both literally and metaphorically!
The Last Bit, As Ola Electric navigates the bumpy road of service issues and vehicle fires, Aggarwal’s attitude problem and the perceived lack of accountability are casting shadows over the company’s otherwise ambitious journey.
Thus, it remains to be seen whether Aggarwal will pivot towards a more responsible and transparent leadership style or continue down the path of nonchalance, risking the very foundation of Ola Electric’s electrifying vision.