Ola CEO delegates daily operations to CFO

BENGALURU: Amid negative publicity surrounding EVs and their batteries, Ola founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said he’s delegating some responsibility of day-to-day operations to the company’s CFO Arun G R, so that he can focus more on the engineering, product and team-building parts of the business.

“To drive scale, speed and quality, Ola has expanded group CFO Arun G R’s role to help and support Bhavish Aggarwal in day-to-day operations across the group,” a spokesperson for the company said.

Amid rumours of Aggarwal stepping down from his post permanently, the Ola CEO on Tuesday tweeted: “Reads like I’m retiring! Not true. Arun is a great leader & he’ll help me manage Ola’s ops. We will accelerate ambitious new projects like our car, cell, gigafactory, etc, & deepen focus on tech & engineering. More soon doubling down on building the future here in India, at Ola!”

Many believe Aggarwal’s move is an attempt to communicate that Ola is taking the concerns around EVs seriously. There have been several incidents of EV batteries catching fire across the country over the last few weeks, including one on an Ola S1 electric scooter in Pune on March 26.

On April 9, 20 electric scooters from Jitendra EV caught fire in Nashik while they were being transported. A man and his daughter also died from suffocation in Tamil Nadu after their EV scooter erupted in flames in March. But batteries are not the only problem. An Ola customer recently tweeted that his scooter started moving in reverse even though he had accelerated to take it forward. Many of these are serious design, software and testing issues.

Globally, fires breaking out over improperly manufactured lithium-ion batteries are a rare sight, which is why stakeholders in the EV industry have been so shaken up by the recent mishaps, since it has the potential to seriously hamper the prospects of the nascent industry.

Ola has already built a large EV two-wheeler factory in Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu, and has committed to take it to a capacity of 10-million units a year, which could make it the world’s largest two-wheeler factory. Making that investment successful depends crucially on the product being extremely reliable.