Ola Cabs: Ola Cabs Ebitda profitable; electrification, premiumisation the future: new CEO Bakshi

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Electrification of its fleets and premiumisation will drive growth for Ola Cabs, its new chief executive Hemant Bakshi said on Thursday, adding that the ride-hailing business had turned profitable.

At an ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) level, the standalone ride-hailing business earned Rs 250 crore in FY23, Bakshi said, against an ebitda-level loss of Rs 66 crore the previous year. It also saw revenue grow over 58% to Rs 2,135 crore during the year, he added.

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ET had reported on January 10 that the ride-hailing business’ overall loss stood at Rs 1,082 crore in FY23, narrowing by 65% from a year earlier.

Bakshi, who joined Ola around September last year from fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) major Unilever, said the firm would rely on premium offerings like Ola’s Prime+ as well as electrification of the fleet to drive 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) (sic),” he said.

Bakshi 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.

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“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 and managing director Bhavish Aggarwal said about the relationship between the two firms. Aggarwal added that he is the managing director and chairman for both Ola Cabs’ parent firm ANI Technologies and Ola Electric, and runs the former in partnership with Bakshi. Aggarwal also runs a third entity, artificial intelligence firm Krutrim, which in December announced its large language model (LLMs) in two formats.

Bakshi said the three- and four-wheeler vehicles employed by the firm would also be electrified completely, without giving a timeline or details of the plan.

Though OIa 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 Bangalore, Ola Cabs registered over 1.75 million rides on its electric scooters since launching about three months ago, and has set up 200 charging stations to service 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 in the near future, Bakshi said without giving further details.

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, cofounder and managing director Bhavish Aggarwal said.

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