Amid e-scooter troubles, Ola rejigs leadership roles

A company spokesperson confirmed the leadership changes stating that Ola will focus more on future projects such as car and cell manufacturing out of India.

Ola Electric appoints Prabhakar Patil

Ola group, in the news recently for its electric scooter catching fire as well as some manufacturing glitches, has rejigged its C-level suite, including CEO Bhavish Agarwal and CFO GR Arun Kumar.

A source aware of the company’s operations told FE that as Ola looks to double down on future EV and mobility projects, some leadership changes were necessary to streamline day-to-day operations.

Aggarwal announced these changes a week ago to a select group of Ola employees in an internal email.

The source also said Aggarwal will deepen his focus on building high growth businesses and projects across Ola Electric and Ola’s core mobility businesses. Kumar, currently group CFO at Ola and CFO at Ola Electric, will be given additional charge to oversee day-to-day operations.

“Under Bhavish’s leadership, Ola will continue to focus on strategic projects, including new 2W products, 4W projects, innovations in quick commerce, electrifying ride-hailing, Ola Financial Services, auto retail, cell R&D and manufacturing, among others. To drive scale, speed and quality, Ola has expanded group CFO Arun GR’s role to help and support Bhavish Aggarwal in day-to-day operations across the group,” the source mentioned above added.

A company spokesperson confirmed the leadership changes stating that Ola will focus more on future projects such as car and cell manufacturing out of India.

“As Ola focusses on accelerating ambitious new projects like car & cell manufacturing, gigafactories and electrifying ride-hailing business amongst others, the company is ensuring adequate focus on execution excellence and keeping entrepreneurial leadership high on the new businesses,” the spokesperson added.

Last month, a brand new Ola S1 Pro EV scooter caught fire in Pune and the video of the incident went viral on the internet. Around the same time, a father and daughter died in Tamil Nadu after their new Okinawa EV scooter caught fire when left to charge overnight. A Pure EV electric scooter had also gone up in flames on the side of a busy road in Chennai.

The government said it has officially opened an investigation into multiple incidents of two-wheeler EVs catching fire, which experts say are due to mismanagement in cell and battery tech in EV scooters.

Ola reportedly delivered more than 9,000 scooters in March, overtaking existing competitors such as Ather Energy, Okinawa, and others.

Ola has seen an exodus of senior executives, including across V-P and C-levels in the recent past. The company’s ex-chief financial officer Swayam Saurabh and chief operating officer Gaurav Porwal had quit their roles ahead of the firm’s proposed IPO plans in November 2021. Saurabh was appointed Ola’s CFO recently in April 2021, while COO Porwal has also taken additional charge as head of Ola Fleet and Ola Foods during his tenure.

Ola’s EV project is housed under a different entity, named Ola Electric Mobility Pvt Ltd. High-level and C-suite exits have been a continuing trend at Ola since 2019, though the average attrition rates at tech start-ups have been on the rise, especially after the pandemic.

Prior to the C-level exit of Saurabh and Porwal, Ola’s co-founder Pranay Jivrajka, and Ola Electric co-founders Ankit Jain and Anand Shah, had left the company last year.

Ola Financial Services CEO Nitin Gupta put down his papers last year to pursue his own venture, while Ola’s chief business officer Sanjay Bhan also left the company in July 2020.

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First published on: 12-04-2022 at 23:16 IST