By: Pramod Thomas
INDIAN firm Ola will invest £100 million in the UK to open a research and development facility for a planned electric car, the Guardian reported.
The new facility will be based in Coventry, the traditional West Midlands centre of the UK automotive industry. It will create 200 jobs in design and engineering. Workers at the plant will also research battery technology, the report added.
Ola launched its taxi app that rivals Uber in cities including London, Birmingham and Cardiff in 2018. Now the company promotes electric vehicles such as scooters and cars.
Founded in 2010 by Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola claims to be the world’s third-largest ride-hailing app.
This week its electric vehicle arm, Ola Electric, raised $200m in funding at a reported £3.7bn valuation – previous backers include Japan’s Softbank. It is also reportedly planning a stock market float to raise as much as $2bn.
According to the report, the electric scooters are currently designed and manufactured in Bengaluru.
Ola said the new UK facility called ‘Futurefoundry’ will work closely with the headquarters. But the company did not provide many details.
Traditional carmakers such as Volkswagen are racing against newer companies led by America’s Tesla to invest in facilities to build new battery electric vehicles (EVs). However, EVs still only accounted for about 12 per cent of UK sales in 2021.
The alliance between Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi became the latest traditional carmaker to outline plans for major investments.
The alliance said it would spend £19.2bn over the next five years to launch new electric models, including a new Nissan compact car in Europe – built at a Renault factory in northern France – to replace the Micra.
“Ola Futurefoundry will enable us to tap into the fantastic automotive design and engineering talent in the UK to create the next generation of electric vehicles. Futurefoundry will work in close collaboration with our headquarters in Bangalore, India, to help us build the future of mobility as we make electric vehicles affordable across the world,” Aggarwal was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
The company last year recruited Wayne Burgess, a former Jaguar and Geely designer, to lead the UK vehicle design efforts.
Burgess said Ola wanted to create a “world-class design and R&D team with global sensibilities”.