Ola Electric Scooter: Test Drive Available or Not?
Ola Electric has been able to create a massive euphoria around its electric scooter in the up & coming EV market in India. Some compare this buzz with what Tata Motors created with the Nano more than a decade ago. But Nano wasn’t that big a success. The long-term success of Ola Electric will depend on many factors. Delivery, pre-sale service, after-sales service, finance, competition etc are just a few of those factors.
A lot of the strategies of Ola Electric are untested & unproven. Be it the new pre-booking model or the absence of dealerships/agencies which deliver the vehicle or the new after-sales service model, all of which are unheard in the industry. A very important part of the purchase process of any vehicle is a very initial step: test ride/drive. The absence of dealerships in Ola’s case is a big hindrance in this step. Customers prefer to test the vehicle on roads before buying.
Ola Electric has announced its plans to deal with this issue. The two models, Ola S1 & S1 Pro, were available for test rides from November 10, 2021, onwards. The test rides were offered only in 4 cities: Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad & Bangalore. The company’s CEO informed that test rides will soon be conducted in other cities as well. Those who had done the advance payment for the scooters were informed by email & SMS for the scheduled test rides. The test ride slots were available for 12, 13 & 14 November between 10 AM to 7 PM in all 4 cities at pre-decided locations. Only customers who made an advance payment in the first batch were able to test ride the scooter.
The company plans to organise test ride camps in other cities where their electric scooters have been booked in decent numbers. The customers will be told to “Find the nearest Ola Test Ride Camp & book your slots”. No charges will be levied for this process. The customers will have to carry a valid driving license.
The company is being criticised by those who have booked the scooters for delays in deliveries and lack of test rides. The company has been postponing the delivery date due to various challenges. In a statement, Ola has said that it wants the customers to take the test run and if they like it, then take the scooter home. If the customer decides to cancel the booking after the test ride, the entire amount taken would be refunded.
The customers who experienced the final product in the 4 cities where test rides were offered, generally gave positive reviews about the scooter. Users called the scooter ‘zippy’.
The points to note with respect to Ola Electric’s new ‘pre-sales experience’ model are:
1. Since there are no dealerships, customers cannot walk into an establishment and conduct a test drive.
2. ‘Invite-only’ test rides are available for customers who pre-book the scooters. The next booking slot opens from Dec 16, 2021, onwards.
3. Which cities will host the test ride camps are unknown. The first leg of test rides was held in 4 cities and the company is likely to increase this number depending on the number of bookings in various cities.
4. Customers who have pre-booked the scooters are informed by email & SMS for the scheduled test rides.
5. The test ride slots will be available on pre-determined dates, between set times, at pre-decided locations.
6. The company won’t charge anything for the test rides.
7. A valid driving license is needed.
Since there are no service centres, the company will follow a unique model with respect to the after-sales service of the scooters. If a customer requires service, he/she can book an appointment on the app and a service technician will visit the customer’s place and service the scooter there. The service is condition-based and the scooter will notify the user as & when the service is required. Suppose the scooter has been in an accident and needs paintwork, the technician will take the scooter, get it worked upon and deliver it back.
1. Everything about the process will be online.
2. One has to go to the website for making orders & payments.
3. The process is highly centralised and the e-scooter will be shipped on a truck to the customer’s place.
4. The orders are divided into 3 categories: Purchasers (who have paid Rs.20,000), Reservers (who have made a token advance of Rs.499) & all the others who have shown interest.
5. It will be on the basis of the above-mentioned Point 4 how customers will be offered test rides.
6. Test rides won’t be offered from dealerships but from public places like malls, parking, etc.
7. Post-purchase service intervals are likely to be longer than conventional scooters and the owners will need to fix an appointment using the app.
8. The scooters diagnostics can detect problems and automatically send messages to the central server.
The most recent update with respect to test rides is that the company is coming to Hyderabad, Kochi, Mumbai, Pune & Chennai very soon.
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