Ola to go on a green drive

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On Monday, the ride-hailing company, which operates in over 110 cities throughout India (and now, Australia), announced a commitment to place 10,000 three-wheeled e-rickshaws and electric auto-rickshaws in its service over the next 12 months. The program, called "Mission: Electric", is part of its ambitious plan to put one million electric vehicles on the road by 2021.

Ola did not say which manufacturers would provide the three-wheelers or whether it woud be the company making the purchases or whether the vehicles would be driver-owned.

Ola launched its first electric vehicle project in Nagpur a year ago and the project includes electric cabs, electric auto rickshaws, electric buses, rooftop solar installations, charging stations, and battery swapping experiments. The company announced its first worldwide expansion to Australia in January.

After more than 4 million electric kilometres traveled and many lessons learned, we are significantly expanding our commitment to electrify mobility in India.

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Ola claims that the Nagpur program has provided it with significant insights into effectively managing vehicles, batteries, and operations. Companies like Ola are seen taking the lead here, while other mavericks in the space, such as Chetan Maini, the original founder of Reva which is now Mahindra Electric, are working on solutions of mass-scale battery-swapping stations. The idea is to bring cleaner, more comfortable, and safer products to market.

Cab aggregator Ola is contemplating rolling out battery-fitted electric three-wheelers in the city in the next one year as part of its pan India project - "Mission: Electric" to cut down on pollution in all leading metros.

Sources at the company claim they are in talks with EV innovators in Norway, Germany, amongst other such countries. Last May, media reports had suggested that Ola was headed the electric vehicle way, or at least that its lead investor-SoftBank-was bullish about the electric auto market in India. It added that it plans to continue exploring ways to optimise batteries and charging. The Nagpur project seems to be the first step in that direction. "We have set a target to introduce around 10,000 electric vehicles in various cities of the country". "An attempt was made to create the technology and infrastructure in India but after that failed, the company has turned to European companies who already excel in this field and plans to manufacture the equipment required to run electric vehicles in India", said the source mentioned above. According to a report by Centre of Civil Society, between April 2013 to March 2017 the number of registered e-rickshaws in the city was at 29,123, but the number of unregistered vehicles was more than a lakh.