Ola to invest $500 million in EV Battery R&D unit

July 24, 2022
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Ola Electric, the electric vehicle division of the ride-hailing company, is investing approximately $500 million to develop its Battery Innovation Centre (BIC) in Bengaluru.

Ola, led by Bhavish Aggarwal, stated that the BIC would be one of the world's largest and most modern cell research and development (R&D) facilities, with over 165 'unique and cutting-edge' laboratory pieces of equipment spanning cell-related R&D. The corporation did not disclose the investment's duration.

Ola, supported by SoftBank, now competes directly with electric two-wheeler manufacturers such as Ather Energy, Hero Electric, Bajaj, TVS Motor Company, Bounce and Boom Motors in India. The company also wants to introduce robotaxis, electric cars, motorcycles, and sport utility vehicles.

Aggarwal, founder and CEO of Ola Electric, stated, "EVs are a high-growth, R&D-intensive sector. Ola's BIC will be the centre of research and development in battery technology from India to the rest of the world."

Ola Electric secured approximately $200 million from Tekne Private Ventures, Alpine Opportunity Fund, Edelweiss, and others earlier this year. The valuation of the company increased to $5 billion from $3 billion previously.

According to research by Kotak Institutional Equity (KIE), the business has had one fire incident to date. It was stated that preliminary government investigations highlighted issues with the battery and battery management system. Ola said BIC would have sufficient funds to develop a complete battery pack design, manufacturing and testing package under one roof.

In order to create novel battery materials, it will also have a complete facility for nanoscale research, molecular dynamics simulations, and internal crystal structure analyses.

Ola's BIC will recruit elite global talent, including 500 engineers, who will be assisted by 1,000 additional researchers in India and various worldwide centres. Additionally, the company will collaborate with several IITs across the country.

Ola stated that BIC would have high-tech research equipment, such as X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and third-generation CT scanning technology for non-destructive testing and imaging of batteries.

The Nickel Manganese Cobalt 2170 is Ola's first lithium-ion battery, which was released lately. Ola will be manufactured in-house, and its Gigafactory will commence mass manufacturing of its batteries in 2023. It estimates the current battery to cost $150 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) when its current supplier, LG Chem, moves to $100/kWh.

According to the KIE research, the company anticipates that the change will lower total costs by 10 to 20 percent and enhance EBITDA by 8.5%.

To attain these objectives, the company has acquired incentives for the development of innovative chemical batteries with a 20 GWh annual capacity. This should allow the business to further control costs.

This year, Ola Electric invested in StoreDot, a pioneer in batteries with Extremely Fast Charging (XFC) technology. Ola Electric's investment in StoreDot is the first of several planned global strategic investments.

The company will obtain XFC battery technology, which can fully charge a battery from 0% to 100% in five minutes. Former LG Chem Power CEO Prabhakar Patil was also named to the board.

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