(AF) India’s Ola FutureFactory, home to the much-touted Ola scooter and the largest e-scooter factory in the world, will be run entirely by women, according to Ola Electric CEO, Bhavish Aggarwal.
Welcoming the first batch this week, Aggarwal announced on Monday that the $300 million FutureFactory will be the world’s largest women-only automotive manufacturing facility. He expects to employ over 10,000 women when it is operates at full capacity.
“India’s women will bring the EV revolution from India to the world. When women are equal participants in India’s economic growth, India will lead the world,” Aggarwal said in release, adding: “An Aatmanirbhar Bharat [self-sufficient India] requires Aatmanirbhar [self-sufficient] women.
“Enabling women with economic opportunities improves not just their lives but that of their families and indeed the whole community,” he added, in regard to the macro-economic impact of the move.
He quoted studies that say just providing women with parity in the labour workforce could increase India’s GDP by 27%.
“This is a revolutionary move that will set a benchmark for the industry. While women are increasingly participating in India’s manufacturing economy, Ola’s move will be the first major instance of women empowerment in the EV sector,” said Varun Chaturvedi, founder and CEO of Volttic, which claims to be the country’s largest EV charging company with one stop end-to-end EV charging solutions and services.
Taking a cue from Ola, Chaturvedi said Volttic was also hiring more women in its EV charging infrastructure workforce.
Aggarwal said the FutureFactory’s all-woman strategy is the first in a series of initiatives by the company to create a more inclusive workforce and provide economic opportunities for women across the board.
While phase one is near completion, at full capacity, the FutureFactory would roll out two million units per year to meet both domestic demand as well as that from overseas markets, including the US, where deliveries are scheduled to begin from next year.
“We will continue to take steps that get us closer to achieving each of these [goals] across Ola and encourage others to join us, so we can accelerate India’s progress,” he said.
Ola’s FutureFactory has a targeted capacity of 10 million electric scooters a year, which means it aims to roll out a scooter every two seconds once it is completed next year. But it won’t only be women achieving this, as the FutureFactory will be substantially automated, with 3,000 robots working alongside the all-female workforce.
Ola said it had received orders for 100,000 scooters in the first 24 hours, making it the most pre-booked scooter in the world. The company expects the first batch of its S1 and S1 Pro electric scooters to hit the road next month.
The S1 will be priced at 99,999 rupees ($1,360) to compete with traditional two-wheelers in India. Exports will begin later this year.
The FutureFactory has been backed by SoftBank Group and Tiger Global Management. Aggarwal says these were all steps on the way towards Ola Electric’s vision of a world with clean mobility, a carbon-negative footprint, and an inclusive workforce.
The CEO said his goal is to eventually assemble a full line-up of electric vehicles, including three-wheelers and cars.
The e-mobility business is a follow-up to ride-hailing startup Ola, which is expected to make its debut on public markets next year.
• By Indrajit Basu