In a major boost to the British automotive industry, Ola plans to invest £100 million in the UK to open a research and development facility for an electric vehicle.
With a recent road-going scooter and a planned electric car, Ola launched its taxi app that competes with Uber in cities such as London, Birmingham, and Cardiff in 2018.
Coventry is the traditional centre of the UK automotive industry of the West Midlands. More than 200 jobs will be created in design and engineering. Research on battery technology will also be conducted at the plant.
In 2010, Bhavish Aggarwal founded Ola, which now claims to be the world’s third-largest ride-hailing app. In this week’s funding round, the company’s electric vehicle arm, Ola Electric, raised $200m at a reported value of $5bn (£3.7bn). Previous investors have included Softbank, the Japanese technology giant. The company also plans to float on the stock market to raise as much as $2 billion.
Ola said the new UK facility, dubbed Futurefoundry, will work closely with the company’s Bengaluru headquarters to produce its scooters. Although India’s wages are significantly lower than those in the UK, the company did not specify where its electric cars will be built.
Investment in the UK automotive industry will likely be seen as a vote of confidence after years of underperformance as big firms awaited clarity on the crucial trading agreement with the EU.
Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi became the latest traditional carmaker to announce major investment plans on Thursday. Over the next five years, the alliance plans to spend €23 billion (£19.2 billion) on new electric models, including a new Nissan compact car built at a Renault factory in northern France that will replace the Micra.
Despite its relatively late entry into the electric automobile market, Ola has primarily targeted its home market with its scooters, which are dominated by cheaper models.
According to Ola’s Aggarwal, the Futurefoundry will enable us to tap into the UK’s fantastic automotive and engineering talent to develop the next generation of electric vehicles. Our headquarters in Bangalore, India, will work closely with Futurefoundry to help us build the future of mobility as we make electric vehicles affordable for all.“
As a former Jaguar and Geely designer, Wayne Burgess leads the company’s UK vehicle design efforts. In his interview with Burgess, he said Ola wanted to create a “world-class team with global sensibilities”.
According to him, the company will explore “two-wheelers, four-wheelers, and other form factors.”
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