Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal challenges Rajiv Bajaj to live debate

"We started four years ago. We were the new kid on the block in that industry. And the automotive industry in India is very, if I can use the word, staid," Bhavish Aggarwal said in an interview to ANI.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 09 Jul 2024 Views icon32329 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal challenges Rajiv Bajaj to live debate

Bhavish Aggarwal's response "I put ICE cubes in my drink", to Rajiv Bajaj's "Champions eat OATS for breakfast," has not gone unnoticed in the auto industry, as the CEO of Ola Electric has said he is willing to debate with Rajiv Bajaj on a live platform. 

In an interview with ANI, Aggarwal stated how his new electric vehicle company was not seen as a disruptor about four years ago, with big players being dismissive and how its market share in two-wheeler electric vehicles has grown to nearly 50%, adding that they had started with the mission and purpose that India had to be a part of the global EV solution. 

"Our purpose with Ola Electric was to make India a global EV hub or a global new energy hub. We started four years ago. We were the new kid on the block in that industry. And the automotive industry in India is a very, if I can use the word, staid," he told ANI. 

Aggarwal said there were only a handful of players and very little innovation, especially in the two-wheeler segment.

"The auto rickshaw you're sitting in in India, the design is still 60 years old. You feel it when you sit in the backseat and the driver sits. It's a very bad ergonomic design because no one has ever innovated...innovation was flat and it was only about sales. We do all our product launches on August 15. So on August 15, 2021, we launched our first product. We showed the world our vision and we launched it and it was to be delivered six months after that. So I thought, when we did that, the incumbents, which is the traditional Indian two-wheeler companies, Bajaj, TVS, Hero, Royal Enfield......new kid on the block has come in, they didn't even acknowledge me as a disruptor back then. They were dismissive," he further noted. 

By OATS, Rajiv Bajaj supposedly alluded to EV newbies then--Ola, Ather, Torq and SmartE (OATS). Aggarwal said he responded to it a few months back.

"Three-four months back, I also gave tongue-in-cheek comment that if you have oats, I also have ICE in my drink. And ICE is Internal Combustion Engine. Old technology. Because EV (electric vehicle) is a new paradigm completely. And we have our tagline of the company of Ola Electric, which is 'End Ice Age'. So that's the backstory but on a forward-looking note, he further stated. 

I feel it's a great opportunity for India. If you look at the world, the world, the Western companies like Tesla etc. are good at building luxury cars. But in India, the luxury car market is small. And India is a great microcosm for the global south. Whether it's Indonesia or Latin America, or Africa. In all these countries, which is 60-70% of the world's population, you will be selling two-wheelers, three-wheelers, small cars. So there's no global champion company for these vehicles."

Asked if industralists and entreprenuers can have debates like the presidential debates in the United States, Aggarwal said he is willing to do so. 

"I'm up for it. I'm up for it...I'm happy to debate with Rajiv Bajaj. I'm happy to debate on a live platform," he said.

Answering a query, Aggarwal said he has been "a disruptor multiple times".

He said there should be more public discourse in India because sometimes, people have a traditional mindset of using and adopting technology, and not creating technologies.

Bhavish Aggarwal has also founded Krutrim, an Artificial Intellignce startup.

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