Bhavish Aggarwal Challenges Rajiv Bajaj For A Debate

Published on 10 Jul, 2024, 3:04 PM IST
Updated on 10 Jul, 2024, 3:17 PM IST

Arun Nadar
Arun Mohan Nadar
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The statement was made by the Ola CEO in a recent interview. 

Sometimes a funny remark or statement has the potential of turning into something controversial. The latest statement from Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola CEO, challenging Rajiv Bajaj, MD of Bajaj Auto for a live debate will ruffle many feathers. The statement was made by Aggarwal during a podcast interview with ANI. When asked whether Indian industrialists and entrepreneurs should have live debates as is the case with US presidential debates. He added that ‘he has been a disruptor multiple times’ and his statement comes from the fact that traditional brands like Bajaj, TVS, Hero and Royal Enfield didn’t take Ola Electric seriously when the brand made its debut in 2021.

Aggarwal added that rival brands didn’t acknowledge Ola Electric as a disruptor and were ‘dismissive’ towards the "new kid on the block”. This isn’t the first occasion that Bajaj and Aggarwal have locked horns. Back in 2021, Rajiv Bajaj had said “We (Bajaj Auto) are champions (in the Indian automotive space) and champions eat OATS for breakfast”. The OATS that he was referring to were Ola Electric, Ather Energy,Tork Motors and SmartE.

While Ather, SmartE and Tork founders didn’t react to the above statement, Aggarwal had tweeted last year, “If they eat OATS for breakfast, I put ICE cubes in my drink”. The Ola founder was referring to ICE (internal combustion engine) in his tweet. In fact, in a recent interview, he also mentioned that ICE is old technology and EV is the future and reiterated that “End ICE Age” is the tagline of Ola Electric. Rajiv Bajaj is a man known not to mince words and whether he will accept this challenge from Bhavish Aggarwal or make a retaliatory remark remains to be seen.

Apart from the above statement, Bhavish Aggarwal also emphasised that brands should focus on the volume segment which is affordable two-wheelers, three-wheelers and cars. According to him Ola Electric has the potential of being "the champion company” in markets like Southeast Asian countries, Africa and Latin America which comprise 60-70% of the world population.

With respect to sales, Ola Electric has been in the driving seat as it has over 50 % market share in the electric two-wheeler segment. One of the key reasons for Ola’s success is the introduction of affordable electric scooters in the form of the Ola S1 Air as government subsidies have reduced in many states thereby driving up costs.

Ola S1X

The real challenge for Ola will be the way forward as legacy brands like TVS and Bajaj have ramped up their dealership network for products such as the iQube and the Chetak massively. On the other hand, its arch rival, Ather, has stepped into the family electric scooter with the Rizta.

Bhavish Aggarwal Challenges
Rajiv Bajaj
Bhavish Aggarwal