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Electric vehicles

Niti Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar’s son joins Ola in policy and corporate affairs wing

Ola has great plans for its electric-vehicles business. The slowing core cab business is making it seek cost-optimisation methods. At the other end, Niti Aayog has been working on a draft policy on EVs for some time now.
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manuptoms
11 Jun 2019 4 Mins Read 0 comment
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of Ola e-rickshaw service in the National Capital Region in November 2016, with Bhavish Aggarwal, cofounder and CEO, Ola (extreme left); courtesy of PIB
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of Ola e-rickshaw service in the National Capital Region in November 2016, with Bhavish Aggarwal, cofounder and CEO, Ola (extreme left); courtesy of PIB
Ola, incorporated as ANI Technologies, made an important hire last month. Prashant Kumar, who was formerly Mumbai head of the US India Strategic Partnership Forum, joined Ola in Delhi as director, public policy and corporate affairs. Kumar will be involved in policy matters and corporate relations and work closely with Anand Shah, head of Ola Electric Mobility, two well-placed sources close to Ola told ET Prime. Both requested anonymity. Ola is preparing for a big bang in electric mobility, with plans to induct 10,000 battery-driven three-wheelers within a year and a million electric vehicles — cars, rickshaws, and bikes — in two years. The plans also involve setting up infrastructure, battery swapping, charging solutions, etc. Earlier this year, it set up an independent entity, Ola Electric Mobility Private Ltd, which raised funds to the tune of INR400 crore from Tiger Global, Matrix Partners, and former Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin’s family office, who are investors in the parent company Ola. Also, Ola recently raised USD300 million (INR2,000 crore) from Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation. The investment entails an extensive partnership to build an electric-car fleet and infrastructure for Ola. Prashant Kumar, who completed a BA in geography and economics from Clark University of Massachusetts in 2006, holds a commercial pilot licence and took a master’s in global political economy from the University of Sussex in 2017, shows his LinkedIn profile. He had brief stints with several non-profit and research organisations before taking a detour to be a first officer at the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines. He later worked as an associate fellow at Observer Research Foundation for nearly three years up to August 2016. His most recent role was at the US India Strategic Partnership Forum, the policy-advocacy group. Kumar recently updated his LinkedIn profile as director, public policy and corporate affairs, Ola. Prashant’s father is Rajiv Kumar, who heads the government-policy think tank Niti Aayog as its vice-chairman. Its chairman is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Niti Aayog was reconstituted on Thursday and Rajiv Kumar has been retained as its vice-chairman. Niti Aayog’s outlook on electric vehicles Among the many far-reaching ideas of Niti Aayog is the topic of electrical vehicles. In June last year, Niti Aayog released a report on EVs titled Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs): Towards a Policy Framework. According to a Reuters report, under the new policy, which is still in the works, the government would mandate cab aggregators to convert 40% of their fleets to electric in seven years. The newspaper Mint also reported this development. This can change when the policy is finalised. With its core cab-hailing business plateauing, adjacent initiatives such as food-delivery stuttering, and international expansion slowing, Ola pins hopes on electric mobility to rekindle growth. Before setting up a separate company for EVs, Ola ran a multi-modal electric-mobility pilot in mid-2017 in Nagpur, the constituency represented by Nitin Gadkari, minister of road transport and highways. However, the project ran into issues, failing to meet targets and lacking adequate infrastructure, vehicles, and services. Prior to that, in November 2016, Ola got Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate its e-rickshaw service in the national capital region. Ola has been working on its electric-mobility project for at least four years, with its key investor SoftBank’s chairman Masayoshi Son strongly backing this initiative. He had once shared with the Economic Times his grand wish to give a million made-in-India electric vehicles for free to Ola drivers. SoftBank is not part of the investor group which put its weight behind Ola Electric Mobility Private Ltd. Ola dabbled in multiple adjacent businesses around the core cab aggregation, but did not see much success. After spending about INR1,000 crore, Ola recently decided to redraw its strategy for food business around a cloud kitchen-centric model. Its international expansion slowed by January following a shift of focus and top-level exits. Meanwhile, cab hailing has entered the slow lane for both Ola and its rival Uber. A recent report in the Economic Times pointed out that ride hailing in India is plateauing, with a shortage of cabs because of drastic cuts in drivers’ earnings, resulting in longer waiting times. Also, Uber and Ola have cut back on discounts. Increased fares and longer waiting times have discouraged many from using cab-hailing apps on a daily basis. In this context, electric mobility, with its savings on fuel consumption and emission reduction, may come as a potential growth trigger for Ola. Reuters reported that the government plans to enforce a road map for ride-hailing companies to increase the number of electric cars in their fleet year by year, beginning with 2.5% by 2021; 5% by 2022; 10% by 2023; and 40% by 2026. With the transport sector subject to myriad regulations and policies, Ola and Uber put an emphasis on maintaining strong in-house teams for policy and government relations. Prashant Kumar joined Ola in May as the company stepped up its action on the EV front. Besides working on policy matters, the father-son duo — Rajiv Kumar and Prashant Kumar — have co-written at least one article on The Wire on the American elections in 2016. (Disclaimer: Times Internet (TIL), the publisher of ET Prime, is a strategic investor in Uber. It has a stake in Ola via Ola's acquisition of Riddlr, a public-transport app in which TIL was an investor.)
Ola, incorporated as ANI Technologies, made an important hire last month. Prashant Kumar, who was formerly Mumbai head of the US India Strategic Partnership Forum, joined Ola in Delhi as director, public policy and corporate affairs. Kumar will be involved in policy matters and corporate relations and work closely with Anand Shah, head of Ola Electric Mobility, two well-placed sources close to Ola told ET Prime. Both requested anonymity. Ola is preparing for a big bang in electric mobility, with plans to induct 10,000 battery-driven three-wheelers within a year and a million electric vehicles — cars, rickshaws, and bikes — in two years. The plans also involve setting up infrastructure, battery swapping, charging solutions, etc. Earlier this year, it set up an independent entity, Ola Electric Mobility Private Ltd, which raised funds to the tune of INR400 crore from Tiger Global, Matrix Partners, and former Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin’s family office, who are investors in the parent company Ola. Also, Ola recently raised USD300 million (INR2,000 crore) from Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation. The investment entails an extensive partnership to build an electric-car fleet and infrastructure for Ola. Prashant Kumar, who completed a BA in geography and economics from Clark University of Massachusetts in 2006, holds a commercial pilot licence and took a master’s in global political economy from the University of Sussex in 2017, shows his LinkedIn profile. He had brief stints with several non-profit and research organisations before taking a detour to be a first officer at the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines. He later worked as an associate fellow at Observer Research Foundation for nearly three years up to August 2016. His most recent role was at the US India Strategic Partnership Forum, the policy-advocacy group. Kumar recently updated his LinkedIn profile as director, public policy and corporate affairs, Ola. Prashant’s father is Rajiv Kumar, who heads the government-policy think tank Niti Aayog as its vice-chairman. Its chairman is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Niti Aayog was reconstituted on Thursday and Rajiv Kumar has been retained as its vice-chairman. Niti Aayog’s outlook on electric vehicles Among the many far-reaching ideas of Niti Aayog is the topic of electrical vehicles. In June last year, Niti Aayog released a report on EVs titled Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs): Towards a Policy Framework. According to a Reuters report, under the new policy, which is still in the works, the government would mandate cab aggregators to convert 40% of their fleets to electric in seven years. The newspaper Mint also reported this development. This can change when the policy is finalised. With its core cab-hailing business plateauing, adjacent initiatives such as food-delivery stuttering, and international expansion slowing, Ola pins hopes on electric mobility to rekindle growth. Before setting up a separate company for EVs, Ola ran a multi-modal electric-mobility pilot in mid-2017 in Nagpur, the constituency represented by Nitin Gadkari, minister of road transport and highways. However, the project ran into issues, failing to meet targets and lacking adequate infrastructure, vehicles, and services. Prior to that, in November 2016, Ola got Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate its e-rickshaw service in the national capital region. Ola has been working on its electric-mobility project for at least four years, with its key investor SoftBank’s chairman Masayoshi Son strongly backing this initiative. He had once shared with the Economic Times his grand wish to give a million made-in-India electric vehicles for free to Ola drivers. SoftBank is not part of the investor group which put its weight behind Ola Electric Mobility Private Ltd. Ola dabbled in multiple adjacent businesses around the core cab aggregation, but did not see much success. After spending about INR1,000 crore, Ola recently decided to redraw its strategy for food business around a cloud kitchen-centric model. Its international expansion slowed by January following a shift of focus and top-level exits. Meanwhile, cab hailing has entered the slow lane for both Ola and its rival Uber. A recent report in the Economic Times pointed out that ride hailing in India is plateauing, with a shortage of cabs because of drastic cuts in drivers’ earnings, resulting in longer waiting times. Also, Uber and Ola have cut back on discounts. Increased fares and longer waiting times have discouraged many from using cab-hailing apps on a daily basis. In this context, electric mobility, with its savings on fuel consumption and emission reduction, may come as a potential growth trigger for Ola. Reuters reported that the government plans to enforce a road map for ride-hailing companies to increase the number of electric cars in their fleet year by year, beginning with 2.5% by 2021; 5% by 2022; 10% by 2023; and 40% by 2026. With the transport sector subject to myriad regulations and policies, Ola and Uber put an emphasis on maintaining strong in-house teams for policy and government relations. Prashant Kumar joined Ola in May as the company stepped up its action on the EV front. Besides working on policy matters, the father-son duo — Rajiv Kumar and Prashant Kumar — have co-written at least one article on The Wire on the American elections in 2016. (Disclaimer: Times Internet (TIL), the publisher of ET Prime, is a strategic investor in Uber. It has a stake in Ola via Ola's acquisition of Riddlr, a public-transport app in which TIL was an investor.)

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