Pranav Balakrishnan

Staff writer, The Ken • India Edition

Pranav is one among the fresh graduates who joined from ACJ's Bloomberg programme. Pranav writes about mobility and electric vehicles. He also has keen interest in consumer electronics and telecom.

33 Articles published

Top Comments by Pranav Balakrishnan

Uber, Ola, Rapido—the 3 wheels of India's post-Covid auto race

Hi Yatish, Kunal Khatter in the story said that the ticket size for a bike taxi is Rs 40 with an Rs 8 commission, whereas it is Rs 80 for an auto fare with Rs 16 commission. Combining that with the average distance in the chart would give you: Bike taxi- 40 minus 8= Rs 32/2.5= Rs 12.8 per kilomter Auto taxi- 80 minus 16= Rs 64/4= Rs 16 per kilometer The challenge in unit economics arises when competitors provide discounts and incentives to both drivers and riders. Ola barely had any competition pre-2019 which helped them make the category profitable.

Pranav Balakrishnan

The speed breakers in Ola Electric's path to 10 million scooters a year

My feeling is that pricing is going to be the key to the scooter's success. Both Vespa and Ather have that X factor in the scooter market. Ola's scooter also seems to have that, at least in appearance. A source quoted in the story did say that the primary reason the acquisition was made was because of the scooter's appearance. If Ola can offer similar or better specs compared to Ather and manage to undercut Ather and Vespa's price through scaling, then Ola may have a winner here. Europe and LATAM are going to be important markets for Ola for exports.

Pranav Balakrishnan

The speed breakers in Ola Electric's path to 10 million scooters a year

Hey Ritesh. Thanks for pointing that out. The source meant "phone connectivity feature" than "phone charging feature". We have made the change and regret the error. Here is a link to an article that says the same- https://www.financialexpress.com/auto/gallery/tvs-ntorq-125-in-images-heres-indias-first-scooter-enabled-with-bluetooth-connectivity-and-navigation/photos/1052217/ The larger point being made here is that new-age companies like Ather and Ola can be more agile at adapting to market needs. One thing to keep in mind would be that the pressure on cost managers at Big Auto companies will only go up going forward due to newer regulations and taxes, whereas EV costs are only going to come down.

Pranav Balakrishnan

Charges and sparks fly in Lithium’s leadership tussle

Hi Raj, I think that at its core Lithium is in the cab pooling business. And they might have an edge over Uber and Ola in post-pandemic world because of the elements like predictability and unit economics being in favour of services like Lithium's. We wrote about it a few months back. https://the-ken.com/story/a-covid-pit-stop-to-fix-uber-olas-broken-pool-system/?searchTerm=uber But seems like Uber is tweaking the way it does car pooling to be more accommodative to corporate travel users. https://www.livemint.com/companies/news/uber-relaunches-car-pooling-service-commute-in-india-11601292857851.html

Pranav Balakrishnan

Ola's uneasy transition into an everything company

Hi Yagna, I don't know about the current cash position as their book have not yet been made public, but Ola's initial plan was to roll out three wheelers and battery swapping stations, mirroring the petrol bunks, and then bring the the two-wheelers into the mix. A source said that setting up the charging infra, the one that would consume the most amount of capital, was to be expanded using debt capital which they would offload to a third party or independent partners in a couple of years. This will help Ola conserve capital. An approach similar to another asset management company owned by Ola- Ola Fleet Technologies- and how debt was used to buy cars and giving the driver the option to buy later. Ola just remained as a guarantor. It looked great on paper but there were a lot of practical challenges that hindered Ola's plans of scaling. Here is a link to that article- https://the-ken.com/story/olas-fleet-ing-cab-leasing-ambitions/?searchTerm=ola

Pranav Balakrishnan

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