The O in Rajiv Bajaj’s OATS–Ola Electric has suffered another minor hiccup. The company has deferred its second purchase window by a month and a half from November 1 to December 16.
This follows Ola’s inability to keep up with its original deadlines on test rides and delivery of the scooters to its customers. Earlier this month the company had pushed back the schedule for both by at least 15 days from October 25 to November 10. For the existing customers, the final payment window from November 10 remains unchanged.
“India is going electric all at once. We’ve received unprecedented demand for our Ola S1 and S1 Pro scooters and are currently busy fulfilling existing orders. We will be opening our purchase window for fresh orders on 16th December, 2021. We will reach out to you in the coming weeks to schedule your test ride,” the company said in the message to its wait-listed customers.
India is going electric all at once. We’ve received unprecedented demand for our Ola S1 and S1 Pro scooters and are currently busy fulfilling existing orders. We will be opening our purchase window for fresh orders on 16th December, 2021. We will reach out to you in the coming weeks to schedule your test ride~
“Note that if you have already paid ₹20,000 and secured your scooter during our first purchase window on 15th and 16th September, then there is no change for you. As communicated earlier, your final payment window will open from 10th November onwards basis our previous communication to you and your scooter is on track to reach you within the delivery window already communicated to you.”
When contacted, Ola spokesperson said the priority is to fulfill the orders in the first round of bookings and to diminish the time between purchase order and delivery.
“For fresh orders from ‘reservers’ who have paid Rs 499 but are yet to start their purchase process, we will open purchase on Dec 16th, 2021. This reset has been done done to ensure minimal wait times between their purchase and delivery and to prioritise fulfilling existing customer orders. We thank every customer who has joined our “Mission Electric,” Ola said in a statement to ETAuto. “Our Ola S1 and S1 Pro scooters received unprecedented demand when we opened our purchase on Sep 15-16 and we are currently hard at work building and delivering these existing orders as per the delivery windows committed, which remain on track and unchanged. As already communicated earlier, there is no change in the final payment or delivery window for our existing customers (who paid Rs 20,000 in the last window of Sep 15-16). For these existing customers, their purchase will open from Nov 10th onwards, along with test rides across various locations, for them to complete their purchase process before their delivery.”
Unlike the traditional way of buying an automobile where a customer can walk into a showroom, take a test ride or book a vehicle, then take delivery on a given date, the process of buying Ola’s scooters is rather unusual. As it does not have physical dealerships everything is virtual.
In the first lot, customers needed to reserve the scooters with a payment of Rs 499 on July 15. Then they got a glimpse of the product with the price reveal on August 15. Next up, they had to play fastest finger first over two days in mid September with an additional payment of Rs 20,000. The final payment of the rest of the amount–the scooters are priced between Rs 80,000 and Rs 130,000, would have to be made a week before delivery, most likely at the time the customers would be offered a test ride. As such, the delivery to the first lot of around 80,000 odd people who managed to get the purchase orders done stretches all the way upto February 2021–a wait of 7 months.
In the December 16 purchase order window too, only those who have reserved a scooter by making a Rs 499 payment would be eligible. Ola is yet to decide for how many days the window would be open this time.
This convoluted process has led to rivals from the established two wheeler companies take pot shots at it. Earlier this week Bajaj Auto managing director Rajiv Bajaj mocked Ola for the same.
“If we launch a motorcycle in October, you will get it in November. It is not that if we launch in 2021 you will have to wait till 2022. That is the startup way. That is not the legacy way,” Bajaj said. “Their business model is cash burn model. Our’s is a cash flow model. We have to make sure we make money when we make a motorcycle. So ofcourse we operate very differently. The biggest one is Ola. We have to still see them produce and sell something. I am not being sarcastic. Simply stating a fact.”
It is a running feud between the legacy firms who are perceptibly late into the EV game and startups that sense an opportunity and are trying to disrupt the market. Flush with venture capital funding, the startups have been able to create a buzz–none bigger than Ola itself, but the incumbents have pointed to their lack of core manufacturing experience and sneered at their cash burn model of business.
“The sign of a champion is that you are able to adapt. We are a 75 year old company and have adapted over and over again,” Bajaj had said last week. “Good Indian two wheeler companies are not really as lightweight as maybe some startups would like to think. So who are you going to bet on? Are you going to bet on the legacy companies as you call us or the startups? I would bet on BET which stands for Bajaj Enfield and TVS. They are champions and they have demonstrated it with a track record.”
“There is a saying breakfast of the champions. Champions eat OATS for breakfast. OATS stands for Ola Ather, Tork and Smart E,” he went on to add.