Cab aggregator Ola has said that it will add 10,000 electric vehicles in its fleet over the next year under its “Mission: Electric”. The electric vehicles will be of two categories—e-rickshaws and electric auto rickshaws—across three cities.

As part of this mission, Ola will also bring one million electric vehicles on the road by 2021, the company said. It is in discussion with several state governments to create an appropriate policy environment to deploy electric three wheelers.

According to co-founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal, three-wheelers are a vital means of transportation and represent an opportunity to improve outcomes for all while reducing pollution. These vehicles are also key for last-mile transport.

The company said it will work with driver-partners, cities, vehicle manufacturers, and battery companies to make sustainable technologies cost-effective and viable in daily mobility.

Electric mobility in India

In May 2017, Ola began its pilot electric vehicle project in Nagpur, with a fleet of 200 vehicles including e-buses, e-cabs, e-rickshaws, and e-autos. It had 100 e2o Plus cars by Mahindra operated as cabs and another 100 e-rickshaws by Kinetic Safar. Ola had invested more than Rs 50 crore in setting up charging infrastructure in the city. Ola tied up with electric car manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra for the project.

Ola’s competitor Uber had also announced a partnership with Mahindra in November 2017 to rollout electric vehicles (EVs) in India, starting with Delhi, and Hyderabad. Uber said that hundreds of Mahindra’s e2oPlus hatch and the eVerito sedan will be available as cabs to riders in these two cities.

Manufacturer Mahindra and cab aggregation companies are pushing for electric vehicles in sync with the Union government’s goal to increase electric mobility. Transport minister Nitin Gadkari had said that all of India’s vehicles will be electric by 2030.  Recently, the government also said that setting up charging stations for electric vehicles do not need a separate license under the Electricity Act of 2003 giving a big boost to ambitious EV plans.

However, the Centre has dropped its plan to formulate policy for electric vehicles in India. Now, companies will have to consider some key factors before making the shift completely, such as availability of charging points, operating on fixed routes and permissions. To promote electric mobility, investment will have to be made in developing the overall infrastructure and not just vehicle fleets.