Statistics, like bikinis, can often hide a lot more than what they reveal.
Ola has said that it has received 1 lakh bookings for its electric scooter. “India’s EV revolution is off to an explosive start. Huge thanks to the 100,000+ revolutionaries who’ve joined us and reserved their scooter. If you haven’t already, join the revolution,” wrote Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal.
Ola had earlier allowed anyone to reserve Ola’s electric scooter through its website for Rs. 499. The booking didn’t require any documentation, and the amount was fully refundable if the customer later chose to not buy the scooter. Interestingly, Ola had revealed little about its scooter — Ola is yet to disclose the scooter’s price, top speed, battery life, and other details — but managed to get 1 lakh bookings in around a day.
In contrast, India’s entire electric scooter market had sold only 25,598 scooters in all of 2020. Hero Electric had been the leader, selling 8,111 units, and was followed by Okinawa with 5,564 units and Ampere with 4,422 units. EV startup Ather Energy, which has managed to create quite a bit of buzz, had sold only 2,972 scooters in the entire year.
As such, Ola’s 1 lakh booking number might need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Ola has built a brand for itself, and had produced some slick videos marketing the bike, but it’s unlikely that all these 1 lakh people actually intend to purchase the scooter. Also, it’s unlikely that 1 lakh people would ignore the 20-odd electric vehicle scooter brands that are currently available in the market, and would sign up to buy a scooter which hasn’t even disclosed its price, top speed, battery range or launch date.
But Ola opening up reservations for its scooters — for the price of a pizza, no less — might be a clever strategic ploy. It creates a fair amount of buzz around the scooter, while also netting Ola some serious money — with over one lakh people having paid Rs. 499 to reserve their spot, Ola has earned itself a cool Rs. 5 crore in one day. But while Ola’s initial booking numbers are impressive, overall electric scooter market data in India suggests it’s likely that only a small fraction of these initial enthusiasts will actually end up making the purchase.