Ola Electric’s aggressive launch strategy has lost some steam in the last few weeks, as the start-up grapples with delays said to be caused by the global semiconductor shortage and an emerging paucity of lithium-ion cells. Having already intimated the first set of buyers that deliveries of the Ola S1 and S1 Pro have been pushed to mid-December, Ola Electric has now decided to push the opening of the second purchase window for potential buyers to next year, as it aims to first ease out of the tricky spot it finds itself in at present.
As per an official email sent to customers seen by Tech2, the second purchase window for the Ola S1 and S1 Pro – which was to open on 16 December, according to the most recent update – has now been pushed by a full month, and will now open only late in January 2022, with the exact date to be confirmed sometime early next year. This is not the first time the purchase window opening has been rescheduled – after closing the purchase window within two days of the scooter going on sale, Ola had promised to reopen the window on 1 November. Reservations remained open even after the purchase window closed, and Ola Electric continues to accept Rs 499 as a pre-booking amount from prospective buyers at the time of this report being filed.
However, facing challenges with getting series production underway, Ola Electric had to push that to 16 December, along with rescheduling deliveries for the end of November; a change from the plan to commence deliveries in October as was announced at the launch on 15 August. The start-up only began test rides on 10 November, with short rides being offered across nine cities only to customers who had paid the second instalment of Rs 20,000.
The pushing of the second purchase window comes as no surprise, as Ola is currently seeking to fulfil the orders in hand – estimated to be around one lakh orders – by tackling a crippling chip shortage as well as a quickly-developing battery cell shortage, which is understood to also be affecting other electric vehicle manufacturers in India. Industry estimates suggest the chip shortage will extend well into 2022, and the lithium-ion cell shortage is a result of hampered supply and battery makers’ decision to prioritise markets with higher levels of demand.
Shortage of electronic components aside, the Ola S1 also seems to be some time away from being fully ready for customers at this point. Several media outlets that tested pre-production scooters early in November reported software glitches, heating issues and erratic throttle behaviour. Ola is said to be working on fixing these problems with software updates before it starts sending these scooters to buyers, which is also a challenge, as the company is aiming to do something completely novel – sell and deliver the scooter directly to the customer’s doorstep.