Ola Electric Mobility Pvt Ltd (Ola Electric) today announced that Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, has invested in the company in a personal capacity as part of its Series A round of funding. Tata is also an early investor in ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd, Ola’s parent company. Ola did not specify the amount Tata invested but said it was a “significant endorsement of the company’s approach to developing an electric mobility ecosystem, including innovations in charging infrastructure, swapping models, and market-appropriate products”, and that it would bolster the company’s ambitions to make electric mobility viable at scale. Ola’s goal is to have a million electric vehicles in India by 2021.

Ola Electric is currently running several pilots involving charging solutions, battery-swapping stations, and deploying vehicles across two, three and four-wheeler segments, the release stated.

Ola Electric’s fundraising and partnerships with Hyundai and Kia

ANI Technologies created Ola Electric in April 2017. In March, Ola raised $300 million (Rs 2,081 crore approx) from South Korean car makers Hyundai Motor Group and Kia. The same month, Ola Electric raised Rs 400 crore led by investors Tiger Global, Matrix India and other unnamed investors. The company also signed partnerships with Hyundai and Kia under which the three would work on becoming a “Smart Mobility Solutions Provider”, develop fleet and mobility solutions, and work on India-specific electric vehicles and infrastructure. Through the partnership, Ola will use data from service operations to improve its vehicles and meet local needs. It will offer Ola drivers financial services like lease and install payments, vehicle maintenance and repair services, but hasn’t specified how.

In mid-March, Mint reported that Ola was talking to Indian car makers to get custom electric and connected “Special Purpose Vehicles.” It was unclear which companies Ola was talking to, and whether that development was connected with its fundraise and tie-up with Hyundai and Kia. Ola also has a strategic tie-up with Mahindra & Mahindra, which manufactures electric cars in India.

Ola’s plans for self-driving cars

In addition to electric vehicles, Ola also plans to introduce self-driving cars in India. On March 28 the Economic Times reported, citing sources, that Ola plans to invest $500 million in debt and equity over the next 2 years in a self-drive service. It will have a fleet of 10,000 sedans and SUVs with other vehicles in “major cities in the coming months”. An Ola spokesperson told MediaNama that it was piloting Ola Self-Drive with rentals, subscription (for consumers) and corporate leasing via Ola Corporate in select cities over the next few weeks. Ola did not mention the cities in which the pilot would take place.

Uber and electric vehicles

In November 2017, Uber partnered with Mahindra & Mahindra to roll out electric vehicles in India, starting with Delhi and Hyderabad. At that time, it said that hundreds of Mahindra’s e2oPlus hatchbacks and eVerito sedans would be available as cabs to riders in these two cities, followed by other cities soon. However, in October 2018, Uber hit last-mile issues with this partnership. Pradeep Parameswaran, Uber’s president for India and south Asia, said that the vehicles would be rolled out on its platform in a few months, after a delay of at least 6 months. In January this year, Uber said that it would continue investing in Uber Eats and the electric vehicles business, and high-potential markets such as India and the Middle East.