Ola raises $300M as part of a new electric vehicle partnership with Hyundai and Kia

Ride-hailing platform Ola announced today that it has raised $300 million from Hyundai and Kia as part of a strategic partnership focused on electric vehicle development.

This brings the company’s total raised to $3.8 billion according to Crunchbase. Ola’s last funding was announced just three weeks ago, when the company said it had raised $56 million in early funding by investors including Tiger Global and Matrix India (two of its earliest backers) to spend on its recently spun-out electric vehicle business called Ola Electric Mobility.

In a press release, Ola said the partnership will build “India-specific” electric vehicles and infrastructure customized for Ola’s fleet and operating and management software. It also includes new financing programs, such as loans and installment payments, for driver who want to purchase the EVs.

Ola Electric Mobility’s challenges including building EV infrastructure (and gathering related data, including maps) for India’s sprawling and diverse landscape. One incentive is the government’s stated goal of making 30 percent of the country’s vehicles electric by 2030, though it hasn’t formalized that policy yet.

Ola’s announcement said that “data accumulated during service operation will allow the companies to make constant vehicle improvements to better meet local needs and specifications.” For Hyundai, the partnership represents an opportunity to move beyond being an auto-maker to taking control of all parts in the “mobility value chain,” including production, fleet operation and services.

Ola’s goal is to increase its drivers from 1.3 million to two million and offer one million EVs by 2022. Its other EV programs include a pledge to add 10,000 rickshaws for use in cities.

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India’s Ola spins out a dedicated EV business — and it just raised $56M from investors

Ola, Uber’s key rival in India, is doubling down on electric vehicles after it span out a dedicated business, which has pulled in $56 million in early funding.

The unit is named Ola Electric Mobility and it is described as being an independent business that’s backed by Ola. TechCrunch understands Ola provided founding capital, and it has now been joined by a series of investors who have pumped Rs. 400 crore ($56 million) into Ola Electric. Notably, those backers include Tiger Global and Matrix India — two firms that were early investors in Ola itself.

While automotive companies and ride-hailing services in the U.S. are focused on bringing autonomous vehicles to the streets, India — like other parts of Asia — is more challenging thanks to diverse geographies, more sparse mapping and other factors. In India, companies have instead flocked to electric. The government had previously voiced its intention to make 30 percent of vehicles electric by 2030, but it has not formally introduced a policy to guide that initiative.

Ola has taken steps to electrify its fleet — it pledged last year to add 10,000 electric rickshaws to its fleet and has conducted other pilots with the goal of offering one million EVs by 2022 — but the challenge is such that it has spun out Ola Electric to go deeper into EVs.

That means that Ola Electric won’t just be concerned with vehicles, it has a far wider remit.

The new company has pledged to focus on areas that include charging solutions, EV batteries, and developing viable infrastructure that allows commercial EVs to operate at scale, according to an announcement. In other words, the challenge of developing electric vehicles goes beyond being a ‘ride-hailing problem’ and that is why Ola Electric has been formed and is being capitalized independently of Ola.

An electric rickshaw from Ola

Its leadership is also wholly separate.

Ola Electric is led by Ola executives Anand Shah and Ankit Jain — who led Ola’s connected car platform strategy — and the team includes former executives from carmakers such as BMW.

Already, it said it has partnered with “several” OEMs and battery makers and it “intends to work closely with the automotive industry to create seamless solutions for electric vehicle operations.” Indeed, that connected car play — Ola Play — likely already gives it warm leads to chase.

“At Ola Electric, our mission is to enable sustainable mobility for everyone. India can leapfrog problems of pollution and energy security by moving to electric mobility, create millions of new jobs and economic opportunity, and lead the world,” Ola CEO and co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal said in a statement.

“The first problem to solve in electric mobility is charging: users need a dependable, convenient, and affordable replacement for the petrol pump. By making electric easy for commercial vehicles that deliver a disproportionate share of kilometers traveled, we can jumpstart the electric vehicle revolution,” added Anand Shah, whose job title is listed as head of Ola Electric Mobility.

The new business spinout comes as Ola continues to raise new capital from investors.

Last month, Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal invested $92 million into the ongoing Series J round that is likely to exceed $1 billion and would value Ola at around $6 billion. Existing backer Steadview Capital earlier committed $75 million but there’s plenty more in development.

A filing — first noted by paper.vc — shows that India’s Competition Commission approved a request for a Temasek-affiliated investment vehicle’s proposed acquisition of seven percent of Ola. In addition, SoftBank offered a term sheet for a prospective $1 billion investment last month, TechCrunch understands from an industry source.

Ola is backed by the likes of SoftBank, Tencent, Sequoia India, Matrix, DST Global and Didi Chuxing. It has raised some $3.5 billion to date, according to data from Crunchbase.

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India’s Ola is adding a monthly billing option for its ride-hailing customers

Ola, the ride-hailing service battling Uber in India, is introducing credit services to its users as it moves closer to a major new funding round.

Today the company took the wraps off Ola Money Postpaid, a service that builds on Ola’s existing payment service — which can be used to pay rides and also third-party services — but offering a credit facility without additional charges. Essentially, the postpaid service lets passengers accumulate rides on Ola and then pay for 15-days of charges in one go, in the same way that we pay for electricity or a phone bill once a month.

Ola said it has trialed the service with 10 percent of its 150 million users and seen a 90 percent repeat rate from those guinea pigs. Testing over, it plans to roll the service out to all users over “the coming months.” While doing that, it said it will increase the billing cycle to 30-days — so you pay for a month of Ola — and bring support for the postpaid service to third-parties.

The latter makes sense as it may boost Ola Money, Ola’s payment service that was given a standalone app in 2015 with a view to being used to pay bills, food and more. Ola hasn’t said much about the service, and we don’t know how well it fairs against competitors like Paytm, Flipkart’s PhonePe or Google Pay, formerly known as Tez.

More broadly, Ola Money Postpaid looks to be an effort to wean users off of cash payments. Cash is still a popular medium in India — to the point that Uber, the great advocate of seamless paying, added it a few years ago — and Ola Money has helped get some users into cashless, but not all have done. The postpaid service, then, appears to be a halfway house between the two.

The key quote from Ola is this one from Nitin Gupta, who is CEO of Ola Financial Services:

“Ola is dedicated to supporting the Government’s vision of a cashless economy and we are committed to being a major force in India’s rapidly growing digital payments market. We will continue to invest in innovative solutions that promote the digital economy across India while extending the benefits of this first of its kind Postpaid offering to more Indians,” he said.

Ola is the midst of a raising a new round that’s likely to be in excess of $1 billion, sources have told TechCrunch, and already investors are contributing. Last week, regulatory filings showed that existing investor Steadview Capital injected $75 million towards the round in a deal that values Ola at around $6 billion. SoftBank, Temasek and others are expected to join.

The company operates across more than 100 locations in India, and its service include ride-hailing, payments and food deliveries. Ola recently invested in an electric scooter startup, and it branched overseas with launches in Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. last year.

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