Wide electrification of its fleet and premiumisation will drive growth for ride-hailing company Ola Cabs, new chief executive Hemant Bakshi said on Thursday. The firm, he said, had turned profitable based on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2023.
The standalone ride-hailing business posted Ebitda of INR 250 crore, Bakshi said, against an Ebitda-level loss of INR 66 crore in the preceding fiscal year. Revenue grew 58% to INR 2,135 crore in FY23, he said, speaking at a press conference.
ET reported on January 10 that the ride-hailing business’s overall loss narrowed 65% to INR 1,082 crore in FY23.
Bakshi, who joined Ola around September last year from fast moving consumer goods major Unilever, said the firm would rely on premium offerings like Ola’s Prime+ as well as electrification of the fleet to boost growth. Ola Prime+ currently has over 20,000 drivers in seven cities, he added.
Electrification would drive down the cost of the ride-hailing business in the future, driving deeper penetration, Bakshi claimed. “This reminds me of the shampoo moment of the early 90’s… the question is, do we have the ‘sachet’ (to trigger the boom in sales),” Bakshi said.
The new chief executive confirmed that the firm had bought about 8,000 electric scooters from public markets-bound Ola Electric. In its draft IPO papers filed on December 22, Ola Electric had made no mention of the purchase by its ride-hailing sister company.
“The inter-party arrangement is that Ola Electric makes the vehicle and sells to Ola Cabs or the driver at an arm’s length, largely to the drivers, and Ola Cabs is responsible for building the network,” cofounder Bhavish Aggarwal said at the press conference.
Aggarwal added that he is the managing director and chairman for both Ola Cabs’ parent firm, ANI Technologies, and Ola Electric, and runs the cab aggregator in partnership with Bakshi. Aggarwal also runs a third entity, artificial intelligence firm Krutrim, which in December announced its large language model in two formats.
Bakshi said the three-wheeler and four-wheeler vehicles employed by the firm would also be electrified completely, without giving a timeline or details of the plan.
Though Ola Cabs exclusively uses electric scooters made by Ola Electric for two-wheeler ride-hailing and sees most of the scooters in operation being leased out by Ola Cabs itself, the eventual plan is for the rider to own the scooters, Bakshi said.
In Bengaluru, Ola Cabs registered more than 1.75 million rides on its electric scooters since launching the service about three months ago, and has set up 200 charging stations for the scooters, the firm said in a statement.
Outside of ride-hailing, the firm now has about 6 million monthly active users on its financial services platform, and is looking to increase logistical services that it provides. Most of Ola’s work in logistics would be in collaboration with the government-backed Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) where it already is a partner, Aggarwal said.