Ola’s S1 and S1 Pro electric scooters were supposed to revolutionize the electric scooter industry. But now many of the first owners to receive their new scooters are sharing worrying details about quality concerns.
Ola’s electric scooters were unveiled with an industry-shaking combination of low cost and high performance.
The scooters are capable of speeds reaching between 60-70 mph (100-115 km/h), yet start at prices equivalent to around $1,050.
The scooters sold like hotcakes when orders opened earlier this year, with sales reaching four scooters per second at one point. Currently only available in the company’s domestic market of India, Ola has announced plans to enter international markets including the US by as early as next year.
Despite running behind schedule on production, Ola recently began delivering its electric scooters to the first reservation holders.
The scooters came with a fancy, high-tech design, but now we’re seeing an increasing number of complaints from early owners about quality issues.
Last week Karthik Varma posted images showing body panel scuffs and scrapes that he says were there upon delivery.
The photos also show what appears to be a several millimeter-wide gap in the body panels around the large color screen.
As Varma explained:
All the vehicles that got delivered today and even the existing ones in Bangalore have this gap between the LCD Panel. If it rains, LCD will get damaged and the warranty will not be covered and will take money from us again.
Varma complained about the damaged body on the scooter and the panel gaps, and was first told that the damage would be repaired. Ola then informed him that he would actually receive a new replacement scooter.
He also complained that the true range of the scooter was lower than that seen in the test rides scooters that were available for reservation holders to ride earlier this autumn.
According to Varma, the test drive vehicles showed a range of 152 km (94 miles) with a 98% charged battery, but his scooter was only showing a range of 135 km (84 miles) with a 100% charged battery.
In all fairness though, for most electric scooters, it is common to see a significant difference between the stated maximum and real-world range.
My personal NIU NQi GT Pro electric scooter had a “maximum” range rating of 140 km (87 miles), though those numbers are usually calculated at slower city speeds. I typically get a real-world range of around 70% of that maximum theoretical range when I am riding mostly at full speed on open roads.
Another Twitter user explained how his S1 Pro suffered issues with its brakes after just 6 km (4 miles) of riding.
He had to have it towed to a shop, where it eventually received a new brake caliper and head light.
Ola responded to the tweet on the same day, saying, “Hey, we’re going to fix this for you right away! Please DM us your contact details & we’ll reach out to you!”
Owner Rahul Prasadh took to Twitter to share images that he claims show a design flaw with how the seat and grab bar interfere with the body panels.
His photos show damage in that area on both the test ride scooters previously made available to reservation holders and to his own electric scooter.
In this case, too, Ola responded to the owner and confirmed that a new scooter would be provided. However, the company did not address what could be a systematic design issue with the grab handle.
Other customers have complained of charging issues.
One scooter has apparently run into an issue of randomly interrupted charging when leaving the scooter to charge overnight.
The owner was able to solve it both times that the problem occurred by power cycling the charger and the scooter, and believes it is a software issue that should be fixed in a future update.
He still seems quite positive about the scooter, replying to a critical comment, “these are software issues and will be fixed in an update… Still it’s a good scooter buddy, if something is fixed with an restart then it’s just software issues.”
It is hard to say how widespread these issues could be. If the issues are limited to just these four scooters out of several hundreds already delivered, it might not be such a big problem for a company that is still working out the kinks in its production.
But these are just the first four we’ve seen so far, and could be emblematic of larger systematic problems.
Owners are rightfully concerned, and the company has yet to publicly address some of the more glaring oversights like misaligned body panels around the LCD screen that could lead to water damage.
I’m sure they are frantically going through their production process to ensure these problems don’t reoccur on future scooters. But you have to ask how some of these could have left the factory like this?
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