Ola Electric pushes S1 e-scooter on-sale date by a week after technical issues stall website, buyers dejected

Ola Electric did all the right things in the build-up to the launch of its maiden electric scooter, the S1, but faced troubles at the beginning of sales on 8 September, with the company website running into major technical issues. As a result, Ola Electric has decided to push the on-sale date for the Ola S1 and S1 Pro scooters by a full week, and buyers will now only be able to complete the purchase starting 8 am on 15 September, 2021.

Start of Ola S1 e-scooter sales delayed

Following the hype surrounding the Ola S1, it was unsurprising that scores of potential buyers were waiting to convert their bookings into a full purchase on 8 September, with the purchase window set to open at 6 pm IST. However, with many interested individuals getting onto the Ola Electric website at 6 pm, the site ran into major technical troubles, with buyers unable to log in or complete their purchase orders.

In a tweet published over an hour later, Ola Electric changed the time of the opening of the sale window from 6 pm to 9 pm, acknowledging the trouble buyers were facing and assuring them it was working to resolve it.

However, even at 9 pm, buyers continued to encounter issues with the website and couldn’t complete the purchase, leading to many dejected responses on Twitter from those who spent their time waiting for their opportunity to complete their order.

'Increased' price not a hike, but a website glitch

Baffling those who were able to log into the website to make payment was the price figure listed for the Ola S1. On 15 August, Ola Electric had announced the S1 is priced at Rs 99,999 (ex-showroom, including FAME-II subsidy but excluding state subsidies), but when buyers logged into their accounts on 8 September, the website listed the S1’s price as Rs 1,35,699; about Rs 36,000 more than stated at launch. Some buyers wondered if Ola had hiked prices just when sales were about to begin. However, the start-up was quick to respond to queries on Twitter, clarifying that the higher price was incorrect, terming it an ‘unfortunate bug’.

Bhavish Aggarwal apologises for the inconvenience

After customers struggled all evening and were left disappointed about being unable to buy the Ola electric scooter, Ola Electric chairman Bhavish Aggarwal issued an apology on Twitter at 9:43 pm, saying the website was ‘just not up to’ expectations on ‘quality’.

“We had committed to start purchases today for our Ola S1 scooter. But unfortunately, we have had many technical difficulties in making our website for purchases live today”, said Aggarwal in his note.

Aggarwal went on to state the start of sales had been pushed by a week so the company can provide buyers ‘the right experience’, but that delivery timelines will not be pushed forward due to this delay.

“Getting you the right experience will take us another week. I want to let you know that we will now be starting our purchase on 15th September, 8am. Your reservation and your position in the purchase queue remains unchanged, so if you reserved first, you will still be able to buy it first. Our delivery dates also remain unchanged.”

Ola S1: What buyers can expect on 15 September

It is clear that Ola Electric realises the frustration these issues would have caused to potential buyers, and almost certain that the start-up will work to avoid a repeat of these problems when sales begin on 15 September. However, buyers may still be in for a fairly long wait before they can get their S1, because those who have booked the scooter are in a virtual queue.

Purchase windows will initially open for those who were the first to place their orders since bookings opened on 15 July, and those who booked the scooter in the weeks that followed will have to wait for their purchase invitation.

Purchase windows will open up basis the date of booking. Image: Ola Electric

After revealing it had received over one lakh pre-orders within 24 hours of order books opening, Ola Electric hasn’t revealed the exact number of bookings it has amassed since then, so any prospective buyers looking to make a fresh booking now will start right at the back of what is certain to be a long queue.

What will encourage Ola Electric is the sheer mass of potential customers who tried to complete their purchase on 8 September. This kind of response is unprecedented for any kind of electric vehicle made available in India till date, and that is surely an encouraging sign. That said, the start-up will have to ensure a seamless buying experience when sales begin in a week’s time, as another misstep may blunt buyer enthusiasm.

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