Ola Electric is recalling 1,441 units of its electric two-wheelers in the wake of incidents of vehicles catching fire, according to the company. The company said its investigation into the fire incident on March 26 in Pune is ongoing.

The company has commissioned world-class agencies to report on the incident, according to the company’s CEO, Bhavish Aggarwal. A preliminary assessment found that it was an isolated one.

However, it said, “As a pre-emptive measure, we will be conducting a detailed diagnostic and health check of the scooters in that specific batch and therefore are issuing a voluntary recall of 1,441 vehicles.”

Ola Electric further said, "These scooters will be inspected by our service engineers and will go through a thorough diagnostics across all battery systems, thermal systems as well as safety systems." The company added its battery systems already comply with and is tested for AIS 156, the latest proposed standard for India, in addition to being compliant with the European standard ECE 136.

Multiple instances of customer complaints

Recently, there have been widespread incidents of electric two-wheelers catching fire in various parts of the country, forcing manufacturers to recall their vehicles.

Responding to queries about the growing cases of EV fire incidents in the past few months, Aggarwal said that EV is a new industry for everybody, and skyrocketing of the adoption curve led to these instances coming to light. “In electric vehicles, we will all have to go through the curve of understanding what causes this, figuring out the right regulatory framework, the right policy framework, the right best practices in the companies and workers,” he added. 

In addition to the EV fire incident in Pune, there have been multiple instances of customer complaints against Ola S1 Pro scooters. The latest is by Balwant Singh from Guwahati, who tweeted that a fault in the electric scooter brakes led to his son’s accident. However, Ola said the data with it does not point to any such fault in the scooter. Multiple other social media users have also said their Ola scooter range suddenly dropped from sub-40kms to 0 km without any warning.

Two other OEMs, Okinawa and Pure EV, have announced a voluntary recall of their e-scooters following the fire incidents being reported in their vehicles. Earlier this week, transport minister Nitin Gadkari said in a tweet that the government constituted an expert committee to enquire into these incidents and make recommendations on remedial steps. “If any company is found negligent in their processes, a heavy penalty will be imposed, and a recall of all defective vehicles will also be ordered,” Gadkari added.

Ola to launch autonomous cars

The company is also doing its R&D on developing an electric car by early 2024 or the end of 2023. Aggarwal said Ola’s car to be exported outside India, needs autonomous capabilities. Otherwise, it won’t be competitive in the market. He added that the company’s vision is to build electric vehicles for the masses.

“The origin of electrification happened in the West with companies like Tesla. They have done a good job in technology innovation, but their products are not relevant to Indian consumers. Anything beyond Rs. 50 lakh is a luxury in India. The same is true for ASEAN, Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America, and parts of Eastern Europe and Western Europe. Our focus is to electrify vehicles such as two-wheelers, small cars, and midsize cars. India is a very good representation of that market. What we like to say internally is, Tesla is for the West, Ola is for the rest,” Aggarwal added.

On asked whether it is the right time to start working on an electric car while the company is yet to perfect its electric scooter. Aggarwal said that the company believes they could build electric cars and scooters together without compromising on quality and customer focus in the two-wheeler business. He also noted that Ola has a large-high-quality team is capable of pulling this off.

Aggarwal confirmed that the IPO plans of Ola Electric’s sister entity, Ola Cabs, have been paused given the world environment and market conditions, which the company will bring back soon.

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