Ola’s electric scooters have proven popular ever since their debut earlier this year. Now we’re getting our first detailed look inside the company’s massive electric scooter factory, which employs an entirely female workforce.
Ola’s S1 and S1 Pro electric scooters first drew attention for their sleek styling and 70+ mph (115 km/h) performance.
But the Bangalore, India-based company’s ambitious plan to become the largest electric scooter maker in the world has drawn headlines for other reasons too.
Earlier this year, we learned that Ola planned to construct a massive electric scooter factory in India that could produce up to two million electric scooters annually.
Ola then doubled down by saying production would be expanded to push that figure even higher. The ultimate goal was to reach 10 million electric scooters per year, according to the company.
As full-scale production drew even closer, Ola again raised eyebrows with yet another announcement. The sprawling 500 acre factory was to be staffed and managed by an entirely female workforce.
Today, Ola Electric’s CEO Bhavish Aggarwal shared a new video giving us an up-close look at production currently underway at the sprawling factory.
Ola’s factory workers can be seen welding, wrenching, and assembling as the stylish electric scooters progressively take shape along the assembly line.
The factory is still under construction (which perhaps explains the nearly omnipresent construction workers), but the first electric scooters are already rolling off the line, barely six months after Ola broke ground on the factory.
And the fast production rate couldn’t come soon enough. The company sure has its work cut out for itself after being met with crushing demand upon opening orders.
At one point, the company was selling four electric scooters every second, resulting in hundreds of thousands of pre-orders.
Despite worries that production could be running behind schedule after Ola postponed the initial date for collecting outstanding payments following pre-order deposits, the company claims that production is still on track.
The first deliveries of Ola’s electric scooters are expected to begin in the spring of 2022.
While orders are currently only open to Ola’s domestic market of India, Aggarwal has already confirmed that Ola plans to enter international markets including the United States as early as next year.
For perspective, I’m going to share my original “Take” from when Ola first announced that it would operate a female-only run and managed factory.
While the idea of “men need not apply” might sound strange to a Western audience, a bit of background on India may help.
India has a dramatically lower female employment rate compared to many of its neighbors and certainly compared to the West. Some figures estimate that women in India make up just 15% of labor participation.
A major factor in this underemployment of women is rooted in traditional conservative views held by much of Indian society that a woman belongs in the home to look after the children.
But progressives are working to change this perception in society, and Ola’s Futurefactory is a particularly large example of a push to educate, train, and employ more women in the work force.
A friend of mine lives near Mumbai and operates a factory that he built himself. For years now he has employed only local women in the factory. As he explained it to me, the women come from nearby villages and it is nearly impossible for them to find work. He trains them and gives them an opportunity for employment, where they have excelled and been able to provide additional financial support to their families.
As a Western male, I can’t claim to understand the complexity of India’s socioeconomic intricacies and their effects on women. But I believe we can all recognize that more companies like Ola making a push toward inclusivity in the workplace will play a major role in providing more opportunities for the disadvantaged to succeed.
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