The New EV Marketing Rules of Ola Electric, Revolt Motors & More

Highlights :

  • New age EV marketers are trying out unconventional tactics, not seen before in the two wheeler category.
  • These tactics are a function of limited production capacity (for now) and their target segment. Can it last?

India’s pursuit of higher electric vehicle (EV) adoption is finally moving into high gear, as ever larger manufacturing plans and interested players jump in. It is no surprise that the EV sector, by doing away with a lot of the supply side requirements that were needed in the ICE sector, be it specialised manufacturing of gearboxes, to transmission systems, to complicated engines and more, has attracted new players too.

One of the biggest new players has been the SoftBank-backed Ola Electric, which began accepting bookings for its new Ola Scooter on Thursday, July 15. The interesting ‘gimmick’ here was that you can reserve an Ola Scooter by paying just Rs. 499. You can cancel and get a refund anytime you want. At this stage, no details on specifications or final price have been made public formally. The firm claims that bookings crossed 100,000 within 24 hours, making this the highest ‘advance’ bookings for a two wheeler in the world.

Rather than price, Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO and Founder at Ola Electric says that “With its incredible performance, technology, and design along with aggressive pricing, it will help accelerate the transition to sustainable mobility”.

The firm is racing to build a factory it claims will have 10 production lines and a staggering capacity to produce over 10 million scooters a year .

Similarly, we have Rattan India backed Revolt Motors which has has brought up an e-motorcycle RV400 which is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) enabled motorcycle. Revolt opened the bookings for the e-motorcycles and claims to have sold out  in just one day.

The RV400 is coming with a 3KW motor along with a 3.24KWh Lithium-ion battery of 72V. The bike gets 0-75% charged in 3 hours and 0-100% in 4.5 hours. RV400 comes with three ranges of 150kms(Eco Mode), 100kms(Normal Mode), 80kms(Sports Mode).

Ather Energy, one of the most closely watched firms in the space, which has the backing of incumbent Hero Electric too, has also gone with its ‘experience centre’ approach, that tries to be as different from the usual dealership as possible.

All these examples are showcasing a new marketing approach to the two wheeler category, that is as different as the vehicles they are selling. Driven partly by the sheer jump the product itself is making from being petrol powered to electricity powered now.

Borrowing heavily from categories like Mobile Phones, (Rahul Sharma, CEO at Revolt is also ex-founder at Micromax Mobiles), the tactics of flash sales were perfected first in mobiles only. Similarly, the idea of pre-booking unseen product offerings also comes from the category, which Ola has leaned on. Doing so at a very low initial deposit enables the firm to focus its marketing efforts on this cohort of potential buyers first, to ensure as many as possible actually convert to actual buyers, when the scooter is launched.

The heavy use of social media over conventional media, a very public CEO face to act as the ‘ambassador/influencer’, besides the use of other influencers eventually, are all signature moves with this approach. it is also a signature tactic when your target audience is the 16-25 year old, which is not just a key demographic, but also an ‘influencer’ that will make or break many EV fortunes in the coming month and years.

However, this approach comes with its own risks. Limited investments into brand building the old fashioned way, which requires a little more effort, also means that the advantage of the parent brand (Ola), or founder(Revolt), can wither away very fast. So if a lot of Ola cab users are potential customers, as they must be, then a drop in service levels there will reflect on the scooter’s perception too.

Similarly Micromax, for all its challenger status and chequered past, has seen more downs than ups in the recent past, probably impacting Rahul Sharma’s own street cred, so to say. The current flash sale approach on Revolt works thanks to a very low production base. But as it ramps up numbers, it will run into a wall of skepticism, as users consider established and familiar brand offerings from the current market leaders like Hero Electric and Bajaj Auto, in some time.

Something tells us that when that happens, in the next six months, the existing ‘low cost, guerilla marketing’ tactics, that are riding on a combination of novelty and generous subsidies, will also need to make way for more sustained marketing plans. And in case these tactics are not actually low cost for some reason, then these firms really have a lot to worry about.

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