Ola’s credentials as a disruptor will be tested by its ability to deliver

 

Ola's failure to deliver a test ride or a dealer where a prospective customer can check out the product is rapidly becoming a trust deficit 

 

 
NOVEMBER 12, 2021 / 10:07 AM IST

 

The scooter also gets, as part of its proprietary operating system MoveOS, multiple rider profiles for individual users, which includes a Parental mode allowing authority figures in a family to set a speed limit and track the movements of the scooters should they wish to.

The scooter also gets, as part of its proprietary operating system MoveOS, multiple rider profiles for individual users, which includes a Parental mode allowing authority figures in a family to set a speed limit and track the movements of the scooters should they wish to.

 

With the latest postponement of the purchase window for new orders of its electric scooters, the cloud hanging over Ola Electric’s ability to deliver on its ambitious promises is growing. Ola’s The scooter, which opened for reservations in July, launched in August, and committed to delivering by October, isn’t close to reaching the customer. It hasn’t helped that the company’s co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal has preferred to tweet about the success of its used cars business rather than address the more important question about when the company would start getting those scooters to the market.

The distractions about keeping the starting price low, touting non-product features like an all-women workforce in the factory, boasting a world-beating production scale even before the first unit had been shipped out, may eventually come back to bite one of India’s most celebrated start-ups. In September, when the company opened its website for bookings of the EVs, users faced technical glitches, particularly galling because it is the only platform for sales. It forced an apology from Aggarwal who admitted in a statement: “We've built a completely digital purchase journey, including a fully digital loan process without any paperwork. We wanted to provide this first of its kind digital purchase journey and today we haven't been able to."

With its core business of ride sharing under pressure, the company has been diversifying into areas like used cars and food deliveries. Neither the diversifications nor the original business inspire the kind of confidence a Maruti, Bajaj, Hero or TVS do. We trust a new bike or a scooter or a car from these companies only because years of usage have convinced us of their reliability. Ask anyone who’s taken an Ola cab of late and the story is of shoddily-maintained vehicles, drivers who cancel and complain and generally unreliable service. Acknowledging these issues, Aggarwal had promised a few months ago to solve “many issues around payments, cancellations, etc, for drivers, customers.” So far the results of that exercise aren’t visible.

There is also the looming plan for a mega IPO sometime in 2022 and the company will be keen to boost valuations both through fund raises as well as some business momentum. IPOs, as we know from recent experience, drive start ups to do things that may not always be in the best interests of the customers in the long run.

Add to that the inability of the company, months after a much-hyped announcement, to offer potential customers of its electric scooters even a test ride or a dealer network where she can go and physically check out the product and you have the makings of a trust deficit that could be Ola’s biggest challenge going forward.

Ask Tata Motors. Despite being part of a group that inspires trust in its very presence, it took the company years to get over the starting troubles and eventual fadeout of the Nano. Subsequent vehicles from Tata Motors failed to live down the poor experience of customers who had bought the ill-fated car. Word of mouth spread the disaffection even further wherein ultimately there was everyone who knew someone who had a sorry Nano story. Now of course we have social media and as the reactions to Aggarwal’s tweet showed, the disquiet with the company’s services is building.

Last week, when Rajiv Bajaj launched his surprising fusillade against two-wheeler newbies like Ola, it did appear that the Bajaj Auto chief was feeling the pinch of unexpected competition and merely letting off steam. But with every passing delay in deliveries, Ola is only ending up proving his doubts have weight. What’s more the delay is also giving time to the legacy auto makers like Bajaj, Enfield and TVS (deliciously dubbed BET by Bajaj) to strengthen their own EV portfolios.

Bhavish Aggarwal sees himself in the Elon Musk mould. Even before the first Ola scooter has wound its way through the streets of Koramangala, he is already talking about making drones and flying cars. Perhaps there is a method to these seemingly random ideas since he sees them, along with food deliveries and used cars, as part of the larger mobility chain. As long as he has global money bags like SoftBank and Tiger Global backing him, he has every reason to dream big. But customers of Ola’s scooters will be happier if this one dream meets reality soon.
SUNDEEP KHANNA is a senior journalist. Views are personal.

courtesy : https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/opinion/olas-credentials-as-a-disruptor-will-be-tested-by-its-ability-to-deliver-7710751.html