Rickshaw driver in Delhi

Indian ride-hailing company to roll out one million electric vehicles

Image credit: Dreamstime

Ola, India’s largest ride-hailing company, has announced plans to offer thousands of electric rickshaws, beginning with 10,000 over the next twelve months, and aiming to reach one million on the roads by 2021.

As India’s economy has rapidly grown over the past decades, its urban centres have become highly polluted. By some estimates, New Delhi’s Air Quality Index sometimes ranks as high as 999: the worst score possible. The dangerous air pollution in the city has led to the closure of schools and even the evacuation by some diplomats due to concerns about their respiratory health.

The Indian government has said that it aims for most vehicles in India to be electric by 2030; an ambition which will require heavy and rapid investment.

In response to the problem, Ola, which is Uber’s main rival in the country, has announced that it will be rolling out a huge fleet of electric rickshaws: cheap, three-wheeled passenger carts popular among the growing middle class for short journeys around cities. It is estimated that there are already more than 100,000 electric rickshaws on the streets of Delhi.

This program will begin with 10,000 vehicles in several Indian cities over the next year. The company aims to reach one million vehicles by 2021. Ola has more than one million drivers across 110 Indian cities, meaning that the majority of its vehicles will be required to go electric in order to achieve this goal.

It has not been confirmed how the company will reach such a large number of electric vehicles so quickly, although Ola has stated that it will be working with local governments and battery and vehicle manufacturers on the ambitious project

 Ola currently runs more than 200 electric rickshaws and buses in Nagpur, Maharashtra, where it has also installed charging stations and rooftop solar panels.

Meanwhile, Didi Chuxing, Uber’s competitor in China, has formed partnerships with automakers to offer electric car sharing in China, and aims to have rolled out one million electric vehicles by 2020. Uber is also taking steps away from petrol and diesel vehicles. From 2020, it will ban its London drivers from using vehicles that are not hybrid or fully electric.

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