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Old 15th November 2021, 12:00   #1
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Default Ola S1 Electric Scooter Review

Ola S1 Pro Review



Ola S1 Pros



• India’s first mass-produced electric vehicle. A market disruptor with solid potential
• Looks futuristic, sleek, yet classy enough to appeal to all and offend none. Build quality, colour options on offer and the feel of materials is good for the segment too
• Well priced for the best-in-class specs on offer. Better performance than any mass-market scooter on sale in India
• Worry-free range for daily runs - ARAI-certified range of 121 km for the S1 and 181 km for the S1 Pro as per IDC
• Loaded with technology and features - large touchscreen and connected features, keyless access, reverse assist, onboard navigation, hill hold (Pro), cruise control (Pro) and more
• Deliveries claimed to start parallelly in 1,000+ cities across the country. No (customer-facing) dealership model is great on paper. Home delivery and service with predictive maintenance for items like brake pad wear
• Committed hyper charger network looks impressive on paper - 400+ cities, 1,00,000+ charging points and 75 km of range topped up in 18 minutes

Ola S1 Cons



• Over-optimistic initial timelines have been missed a few times already
• Some major misses (ABS, flat floorboard, removable battery pack, pillion side footrest, etc) could be a deterrent in achieving the ambitious sales targets
• As on the day of our tests, the product feels rushed into production and a lot more fine-tuning of the power delivery is required for a perfect riding experience (media drive bikes were still running beta software)
• Many of the headline features are still in beta (some even alpha) testing stages and will be delivered to customers slowly via OTA updates. Initial customers will need to be patient
• Despite being priced well, the S1 is still significantly more expensive than the ubiquitous volume-seller, the Honda Activa (without state subsidies, where applicable)
• Concerns over the effectiveness of the new dealerless support model, especially in semi-urban and rural areas. The first point of contact for customers is the OLA Electric App / customer care call centre
• Concerns over initial niggles and longevity of a brand new, mass-manufactured product from a startup company


Last edited by Aditya : 15th November 2021 at 12:01.
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Old 15th November 2021, 12:00   #2
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Introduction



When we reviewed the Ather 450 back in 2019, two things became clear - electric two-wheelers were truly raising the bar and also, the scooter was perhaps the best vehicle format to revolutionise electric transportation in India. Used primarily within the city and by the young and old, men and women alike, with a low floorboard perfect for mounting the heavy battery pack, the format seemed perfect to gain mass acceptance with minimal changes. The only major thing left to do was to leverage economies of scale and compete against the existing ICE options! Bajaj missed out on this golden opportunity when reviving the Chetak. TVS did even worse with the iQube and Hero Electric is no Hero MotoCorp! None of the other newcomers like Okinawa, Benling etc were competent enough to challenge the status quo.

Almost three years later, we finally have it - India’s first mass-produced electric scooter. Let me not mince words here, this is undoubtedly the start of a revolution, one that no competitor can risk ignoring (related read).

The scale is unprecedented - a mega factory in Tamil Nadu, spread over 500 acres and with a planned annual capacity of 10 million units, already commissioned to make a million! To put that figure into perspective, India sells about 18-20 million two-wheelers in a year! So straight away, Ola is aiming not just to become the largest seller of electric vehicles in the country, but also to challenge the current leaders in the two-wheeler space! How realistic is that goal? Only time will tell. If all goes to plan, a brand new scooter will roll off their assembly line every 2 seconds!

Such volumes do have some key advantages, never before seen in the industry, especially in the electric space:
1. Colour and customisation options - 10 colours options for the Pro!
2 Price - though not earth-shatteringly cheap compared to IC rivals, it is still very competitive considering the specs, current fuel prices, FAME 2 and state subsidies.
3 Heavily automated manufacturing process - this should ideally result in more consistent quality.

Even more impressive are the timelines. Needless to say that Ola has taken the market by surprise. Even after missing their super-optimistic initial targets, how did they develop a product in such a short span of time? For starters, they didn’t. They just acquired a Dutch company - Etergo, which had a competent product in the AppScooter, and heavily customised it (improved it too) for the Indian market. From the chassis to the motors and battery pack and even the console and software have seen a lot of changes for India. Overall, it does come across as the most committed approach to building a mass-market EV so far, even with the Ather giving it a run for its money as a better thought-out ground-up EV.

OLA S1 Price


The Ola S1 and S1 Pro have been priced in India at Rs. 99,000 and 1.29 lakhs respectively (including FAME 2 subsidy). State subsidies are not factored into the above price and the Ola S1 rivals petrol-engined scooters for price in a couple of states. For example, in Gujarat, it costs only Rs. 79,999 for the base S1!

Ola has chosen a two-pronged positioning of its product - competing against (and exceeding) the specifications of premium positioned electric scooters like the Ather while going against premium ICE scooters in terms of pricing. Sure they could have compromised many ‘luxuries’ and given an even more affordable price tag, but to be fair, we Indians have never appreciated market disruptors who tried to be cheaper than the rest (Tata Nano is the best example that comes to mind). Ola has struck a nice balance with the S1 and if it achieves even 10% of the announced targets, it will be a revolution nonetheless and we can expect more products and variants in the future. In fact, I have a confirmation that a more mass-market oriented scooter is next in the pipeline before the rumoured motorcycle.

That said, four simple features could have helped - 1. ABS, 2. A flat floorboard, 3. Removable battery packs, 4. Pillion side footrests. These are deal-breakers for many Indian households. However, current fuel prices (petrol having touched Rs. 120 per liter in some states before a slight drop in Diwali) help Ola’s cause and the bookings reflect that.

Tech Specs



Top Speed - 115 km/h (S1 Pro), 90 km/h (S1)
Range (ARAI IDC cycle) - 181 km (S1 Pro), 121 km (S1)
Acceleration (0-60 km/h) - 5 seconds (S1 Pro), 7 seconds (S1)
Battery Capacity - 3.97 kW (S1 Pro), 2.98 kW (S1)
Weight - 125 kg (S1 Pro), 121 kg (S1)
Home Charging Time - 6 hours 30 minutes (S1 Pro), 4 hours 48 minutes (S1)

As confirmed by OLA, the S1 Pro has received the lion's share (~80%) of the initial bookings.

Standard & Extended Warranty



Both the scooters come with a warranty of 3 years / 40,000 km (whichever is earlier), and the battery pack comes with a warranty of 3 years/unlimited km. 3 years in the minimum mandated warranty period for two-wheelers to qualify for the Fame-2 incentives and we wish Ola had provided the option of an extended warranty, especially on the expensive battery pack.

Design & Styling



Not as futuristic as the Ather when it came out, but more importantly for a mass-market scooter, Ola seems to have struck a sweet balance between the future and the past. Comparisons range from the classic Vespa to the animated robot 'Eva' from the movie 'Wall-E'! The design philosophy is simple and refreshingly clean without sharp cuts or garish stickers. This is a design that should appeal to all and offend none.

A wide selection of colours means that there is one for almost everyone's taste. The S1 comes in 5 colours - Porcelain White, Coral Red, Marshmallow, Neo Blue and Jet Black. The S1 Pro comes with 5 additional colour options - Anthracite, Liquid Silver, Millennial Pink, Midnight Blue and Matte Black.

Build Quality, Fit & Finish



Ola has changed some fundamentals of the AppScooter, to better suit the Indian market. The monocoque construction of the AppScooter is supplemented by a tubular frame that envelops the battery through the floorboard, and the battery pack which consisted of three unique removable units in the Etergo, has been replaced with a larger, high density fixed unit. Except for the imported battery packs and semi-conductor chips needed, almost everything else is claimed to be localized and built at the Ola Futurefactory in Tamil Nadu.

Build quality is decent and at par with, if not better than the similarly priced petrol-engined competition. The display scooters were from the pre-production batch and had obvious fit and finish issues, which I could explain over a few paragraphs. But our test ride vehicles barely had anything to complain about. I was also left impressed by the quality of the panels, the paint finish of both the gloss and matte options and the touch and feel of most plastic and rubber parts.

However, there is still room for improvement and the Ola management says it will be sorted before customer bikes are delivered. For instance - the switchgear has very poor haptic feedback and feels lifeless, especially when used with gloves on! Some of the buttons (especially the play/pause button on the RHS switchgear) feel like they can be pressed to either side for each function, but that is not the case in reality. The good-looking side stand has very poor spring damping which makes it feel flimsy when put into action. Also typical of electric scooters, the centre of gravity is low down and the scooter feels doesn't give the heavily-built feeling of some of the lighter petrol-engined competition.

Overall, considering this is the first iteration of Ola's very first product, I would say that there are no deal-breakers as such when the overall quality is considered.

Wheels & Tyres



Wide 110/70 R12 MRF Zapper N tubeless tyres, wrapped around 12" alloy wheels do duty at the front and rear.

The tyres are definitely wider than what the competition offers and the cool tread pattern on the Zapper N rubber will also be a crowd favourite. However, these tyres are not enough when the S1 puts the torque down on the road in Hyper mode. On poor surfaces, initial power delivery does make the tyres scramble for traction and the rear tyre also struggles for grip against the strong disc brakes. ABS would have been a welcome addition.

Ground Clearance



Ground clearance is rated at 165 mm, which is par for the segment. We got to take the scooter over some speed-breakers and broken roads and ground clearance did not seem to be a major concern.

Exterior


Simple styling with no loud cuts or stickers. This clean and understated styling will be appreciated by most people:


There is not even a single badge visible from this angle! The only major character-line is a flowing cut that starts from the front indicators and flows right through the side panel and tail-lamps back to the indicators on the other end. OLA has chosen not to mess with the European minimalism of Etergo's design:


Looks simple and futuristic from the rear. LED elements mean the tail-lamp is a simple colourless affair when the vehicle is switched off:


Classic proportions resemble a modern-day Vespa:


Subtle Ola branding at the front:


Equally subtle S1 Pro badging at the rear. Sports a classy font:


A closer look at the headlamp assembly, with twin LED projector units inside that lend it a humanoid character:


The low beam (on the right) is always on:


High beam is on the left. No flash switch has been provided. On a lighter note - I do agree with those who feel that the OLA S1 with the lights on resembles Eva from Wall-E


Low beam spread, intensity and throw feel sufficient for a city scooter, but the high beam isn't as impressive, especially in the rain:


Tail-lamp design is simple, bordering on boring:


Indicators are sleek LED units, both at the front...


...and rear:


12" alloy wheel with 110/70 R12 MRF Zapper N tubeless tyres. 220 mm disc brake provided at the front. ABS should have been on the options list, at least at the front:


The rear has the same spec tyre as the front, but comes shod with a 180 mm disc brake:


A closer look at the cool tread pattern on the MRF Zapper N tyres:


Unconventional front end features a single-sided swingarm. No need to worry about the unnaturally small clearance between the front fender and the tyre, because the fender is attached to the swingarm and the monoshock and will move along with the wheel:


Rear suspension duty is handled by an offset, horizontally mounted monoshock. The design liberates more room in the boot (seen in a later post):


Charging slot is neatly concealed at the rear:


Press to open the spring-loaded panel. A second layer of weather protection is provided by this rubber cover, which thankfully looks like a child part that can be replaced if needed.


The charging socket design seems proprietary:


Good execution of the side stand making something mundane into a design element. Fits flush with the panel when closed! On the flip side - is a bit tricky to open with wet shoes:


Some of the colours (other than the Jet Black colour of our test bike) on offer include Coral Red...


...Midnight Blue...


...Marshmallow...


... and Neo Blue:

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Ergonomics and Comfort


Overall, the Ola S1 is comfortable for the rider and pillion, but as mentioned earlier, there are some obvious omissions that could become potential deal-breakers. But before we get into that, a quick mention on the overall plastics and quality that is good for the scooter segment.

The switchgear has a unique design with 5 buttons on either side. It takes some getting used to. There is a small ergonomic flaw - the bulk around the switchgear makes it a good stretch from the handlebars, especially for those with smaller hands. Buttons lack haptic feedback and feel lifeless, especially when used with gloves on. Some of the buttons (especially the play/pause button on the RHS switchgear) feels like they can be pressed to either side for each function - but that is not the case in reality. Thankfully, Ola hasn't experimented with the one button that is highly used in India - the horn. A high beam pass switch is missed as well, but in case you need to warn other road users – the horn, although a single unit, is louder than units offered by the competition.

The seats are made of non-slip material, and is decent overall, but the ride height is slightly on the higher side at 792 mm, 2.7 cm higher than most of the competition. While it felt good enough for a near-6 footer like me, we would need to see if ladies would appreciate it. The footwell is also higher than in regular scooters (possibly to accommodate the large battery pack underneath) and is not flat! While this was necessary for the Etergo AppScooter thanks to the monocoque chassis, the Ola S1 has a tubular frame underneath which goes around the battery pack when it reaches the floorboard area. So this may be one element Ola could improve upon.

The mirrors are of the right size, and brake levers, although not of the adjustable type, fall to hand easily. They don’t require much effort to use. Overall, they are decent enough for city use.

The pillion seat is flat and wide, along with alloy grab handles on both sides. The pillion rider will have no complaints if they are seated facing forward. However, a lot of women prefer to sit sideways on these scooters and a side step footrest will be sorely missed. This could become a deal-breaker for some. Ola says this is a design tradeoff that they had to make, but IMHO, it should not have been the case considering they are not just targeting the youth / urban markets.

The underseat storage is brilliant and a 36L capacity was unseen in the Indian market. Two (I repeat, two) half-face helmets are an easy fit! I could fit my large MT helmet sideways (to be fair to Ola, I have a GoPro mount on top, so it doesn't fit straight in most scooters) along with my camera bag. This is easily the best-in-class storage bay, though the addition of a small light and the provision of a charging point could have made it even better.

The rider’s view is good thanks to the sleek 7” touchpad placed in the front and the bulky switchgear area on both sides gives it a unique shape. Overall plastics and quality are decent for the segment:


To give a size perspective, I'm 5'11" and the scooter feels well designed ergonomically. The handlebar comes at a perfect height for my size and is not very short as some of the pictures might suggest:


The seat doesn't slope forward and at 792 mm, the seat is slightly on the higher side compared to the 765 mm standard followed by most of the competition. 2.7 cm shouldn't be a deal-breaker for many, but this is one parameter I would urge you to check out. That said, even if height is a concern, it may not become a deal-breaker due to two factors: 1. low centre of gravity makes the scooter feel lighter than it actually is, and 2. reverse assist feature for pulling the vehicle out of tricky situations, even if both feet cannot be placed flat on the ground:


Floorboard is higher than in petrol-engined scooters to accommodate the large battery pack underneath. However, due to the slightly taller seat height, the rider does not get the feeling of being in a knees-raised positioning while riding:


Legroom is sufficient and the footwell area is accommodating. However, the S1 has a slimmer profile towards the front and the knees could protrude outside the panel area. This should not be a concern though, as the handlebar is still much wider:


The floorboard is far from flat! OLA management says that although this will not be able to carry a gas cylinder, water cans and shopping bags do not pose a problem, but I beg to differ:


Pillion seat is flat, wide and accommodating:


Making the best of the situation to showcase the pillion seating position. Once again, I'm 5'11" and the length of the seat (at 738 mm) seems enough for me, though it's certainly not the most spacious scooter around for two-up travel. Pillion seat is slightly on the higher side and a saree-clad woman sitting sideways would really appreciate a side step:


Alloy grab rails on either side are well placed for a forward-facing pillion to hold on to:


Pillion footrests fold flush into the panels, but as with the side stand, are not easy to pull out with wet shoes:


Handlebar grips are on the thicker side for a scooter and offer decent grip. Brake levers are non-adjustable:


Switchgear is unique with 5 buttons on either side. Clockwise from top-left: headlamp high beam ON/OFF, reverse assist, right indicator (with a press to cancel function), horn and left indicator (with a press to cancel function).


RHS switchgear follows the same 5-button pattern. Clockwise from the top-left: power mode switch, ON/OFF switch (long press to switch off), volume increase button, Play/Pause button (also to answer calls and similar infotainment functions) and volume decrease button:


Nicely shaped mirrors are of the right size:


Seat can be lifted and left open on its stays. It doesn't slam shut as in some other scooters:


36L underseat storage capacity. Two half-face helmets are an easy fit:


With one half face helmet, my bag which can carry a camera with a couple of lenses and extras, the portable home charger for the scooter, my riding gloves etc. There's more space for items to be squeezed in if needed:


Company provided toolkit contains a couple of Allen keys inside:


Shopping bags can be accommodated on this fixed storage hook at the front:


There are two storage slots on either side of the footwell. The RHS one provides a USB charging slot, with a place to park your mobile when charging. This is one area where the plastic quality needs definite improvement. Look closer and you can see the speaker slot as well. Yes, the Ola S1 has an inbuilt speaker:

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Features and Instrumentation


The Ola S1 comes with a well-integrated 7” touchpad for the instrumentation. The device is claimed to be "monsoon-proof and shatter-resistant" and the capacitive touch sensitivity along with good response times make it almost as easy to use as a mobile phone. Powered by an in-house developed MoveOS software, running on hardware consisting of an Octacore processor and 3GB of RAM, the device is claimed to be future-ready and supports 4G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), GPS, and the capacity for OTA updates with respect to software updates and new feature rollouts.

Some of the highlights include:
  • Proximity unlock / Keyless Access
  • In-built Bluetooth speakers (for music playback, drive sounds and warning chimes)
  • Hill Hold (S1 Pro)
  • Cruise Control (S1 Pro)
  • Reverse Assist
  • Brake pad wear sensor for predictive maintenance
  • Mood customisation - different instrumentation themes (display and sound settings) mapped to each user profile. The themes planned initially are Bolt, Care, Vintage and Wonder
  • User profiles (customised settings for up to 4 users in the family)
  • Voice assist - “Hey OLA” with AI speech recognition
  • In-built navigation from MapMyIndia, with live traffic conditions and real-time projected range on the map
  • Option to receive and answer calls via the console and switchgear
  • Electric boot release
  • Live location tracking
  • Geofencing
  • Take-me-home lights
  • Anti-theft alert
  • Side stand alert, etc.
  • Connected features via the Ola Electric App, etc

In fact, Ola wants users to rethink their traditional take on scooters - the case in point being the absence of a physical key! The scooter will be controlled only via a smartphone using either the Ola Electric App or via proximity detection using Bluetooth. Instead of sharing the key between family members, you get to configure individual profiles for up to four users in the family, and each user will have his own customized experience every time he returns to the scooter. Undoubtedly, the Ola S1 promises to become the most feature-loaded scooter launched in the Indian market.

However, most of these features were not present in our media test bikes and many of them will not even be present in the customer bikes initially delivered. As we were informed, some features are under beta testing (e.g. answering the calls via the console, streaming music to the inbuilt speakers, etc.) and some are likely to make it to production before the first customer scooters are delivered. Some of the features are still in the early alpha testing stages (for example - cruise control) and will not be available soon. That does not mean initial customers will miss out on anything as the features will be rolled out via OTA updates and will be available to all the customers (old and new alike) together with each software release.

As we could not test any of these missing functions, we did have a quick Q&A session with the OLA management on the implementation logic of some of these features so that BHPians can have better clarity. Notable points are listed below:
  • Proximity Unlock - Will be based on Bluetooth and hence won't be limited to connectivity issues. There is no physical key and in case your phone dies, you can still operate the scooter by inputting a 6-digit custom number when prompted by the instrumentation upon hitting the start button.
  • In-built Bluetooth speakers - Future updates will provide the option to stream music to the speakers (move over Honda Gold Wing). Calls can technically be streamed to the speakers as well, but they do not see a use-case for it, for privacy reasons. Riders with Bluetooth enabled headsets should be able to answer calls after receiving a notification on the instrument console though. No, Ola doesn't plan to make Bluetooth devices as there are multiple options already in the market.
  • Cruise Control - Is still in the Alpha testing phase.
  • Mood customization - Only the basic 'mood' as seen in the below pics will be available initially. The others will be rolled out via OTA updates - 4 moods to start with, initially. There is a possibility that more options will be provided to the users later via OTA updates, so as to give the scooter a fresh personality once in a while, using clever use of the software.
  • Voice Assist - Will be accompanied with AI voice recognition through a multi-microphone array and linked to user profiles. Testing is in progress to make the voice assist feature work seamlessly in our noisy traffic environment.

7" display provides a smartphone-like experience. Although still running a Beta version of the software, we didn't face any lag for the most part. However, do note that a majority of the features were disabled in the Beta version and won't even make it to the initial production release. Even the boot release is controlled from this touchscreen, and like in the Ather - I had to remove my gloves every time to use the screen. Thankfully though, the Ola S1 provides a dozen physical buttons via the switchgear on either side, so you do not need to use the screen when the vehicle is in motion:


In-built navigation from MapMyIndia provides freedom from phone holders and dangling charging cables:


Bluetooth smartphone connectivity for keyless access, calls and music streaming:


Dark theme and brightness control are available:


Volume control for the inbuilt speaker:


Our media bikes were running on a beta version of the MoveOS software:


The S1 supports OTA updates and features can be rolled out (what is already promised and even more) to users over the lifetime of the scooter. Users will get notifications on their scooters as well as their mobile apps and can choose to update at their convenience:


The console, in its default 'mood', offers a very simple view while riding. Display colour highlight changes from green to orange (as seen below) to red depending on how aggressive you are with the right hand:

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Riding the Ola S1 Pro


Both the Ola scooters come with a Mid Drive IPM electric motor capable of producing 5.5 kW of rated power and 8.5 kW of peak power, with 58 Nm of torque produced at the motor shaft and powering the wheels via belt drive. However, the S1 Pro gets the benefit of a 3.97 kWh battery pack powering the motor, whereas the S1 only gets a 2.98 kWh battery pack. This is enough to get the S1 Pro and S1 claimed 0-60 km/h times of 5 seconds and 7 seconds and top speeds of 115 km/h and 90 km/h, respectively.

We got to sample the S1 Pro at a private facility on the outskirts of Bengaluru and listed below are our first impressions.

The Ola S1 is the first product from a startup giant and performance is certainly the most important aspect to test. Still running a Beta version of the software and with ongoing improvements, there were some rough edges, but the overall experience was good enough to state with confidence that petrol engine competitors really need to pay attention to this electric rival. Improvements can be delivered to users via OTA updates and once sorted, this scooter should become the new performance benchmark in the Indian market.

Getting the S1 Pro off the stand is very easy, thanks to the light 125 kg kerb weight (121 kg for the S1). While that figure in itself might raise some eyebrows (Honda Activa 6G weighs 18kgs less), what is relevant is that the S1 Pro hides a lot of this weight thanks to the low centre of gravity, making it feel much lighter and nimbler than the figures suggest. In fact, at parking speeds and even on the move, this scooter feels lighter than the Activa.

Refinement



As is usual with an electric scooter, the refinement is a highlight of the Ola S1. There is obviously no engine here and no moving parts at idle. So, the refinement when off the throttle can absolutely freak you out if you are new to electrics - a matter of getting used to! Even on the move, NVH remains good and only a faint drone of the electric motor can be heard and felt by the rider. Refinement is a full class better than the Ather 450 when we had tested it, which had a distinct resonant vibration on the floorboard and also a good amount of whine from the motor and fan. At idle, be aware that your vehicle can be ON and any unintended accelerator input can send it flying!

If this degree of refinement isn't to your liking - customised vehicle sounds can be set through the inbuilt speakers to make it sound the way you want.

Riding Modes



Acceleration is good. In fact, it's so good for a scooter, that you will leave many other road users amazed! Ola claims that it will hit 40 km/h within 3 seconds, 60 km/h in 5 seconds and reach a top speed of 115 km/h. I find no reason to suspect these figures. In fact, we were given access to private roads to test the performance, but the weather conditions were absolutely unforgiving (as is evident in the pics), and the S1 Pro on Hyper mode turned out to be more intense than could be experienced in such conditions. There was effortless pull till 90 km/h and overtaking manoeuvres at city speeds just need a proper twist of the throttle. Doubt that even the 150cc scooters (Aerox 155, SR160, etc.) can come close to this level of performance!



The S1 Pro comes with three power modes - Normal, Sport and Hyper, whereas the S1 misses out on the Hyper mode. Although the motor is is the same in these two scooters, the smaller battery pack in the base variant cannot provide the juice required for the Hyper mode.

At the moment, Normal feels the most sorted among the riding modes, providing an almost seamless experience on and off the throttle. There is still enough pep off idle and also at city speeds to keep up with a 125cc scooter while also providing considerably better range - our scooter with 98% battery charge showed an estimated 150 km in Normal Mode, as against 121 km in Sport and 94 km in Hyper.

Sport Mode feels very comparable to what I remember of the original Ather 450, but in the Pro - it feels like a midway between the Normal and Hyper modes. The talking point here is definitely the Hyper Mode. Negatives first - riding the scooter in this mode felt a lot like taming a horse with some amount of throttle lag and a quick burst of acceleration after that, along with full power loss and again throttle lag felt at even a slight touch of the brake lever. But issues aside, it has the fastest acceleration I have experienced on a scooter and how!

Throttle Lag and tuning issues



As mentioned above, all is not well with the way the motor puts the torque down. Ola has clarified that the power delivery will be sorted in the production versions and further improved over time via OTA updates. But it is only fair to report things as we have experienced on the test bikes. The product feels rushed into production in this core aspect.

For a start, there is a throttle lag which is noticeable at times and gets annoying on occasion. Accentuated, especially when pulling the throttle wide open, the scooter does nothing for almost a full second before realising what is happening and responding accordingly. On a couple of occasions, this felt longer than a second even and I was beginning to wonder if the scooter got switched off, when it started shooting forward like a bat out of hell! To make matters worse, power delivery gets completely messed up when you touch the brake levers even slightly. As an example, when taking a U-turn after slowing down, if your hand is even ever-so-slightly pressing the brake lever, the scooter does nothing. The logic may be implemented to reduce brake pad wear, or to prevent the motor from getting stressed against the brakes, But it feels so unnatural when that happens.

Simply put, if you are used to petrol scooters and this is your first electric experience, take it easy initially, or it may not feel like a natural transition! The good news is that the glitch is felt much lesser in Normal mode.

On a lighter note - I wonder how the Ola marketing / stunt team was able to do those burn-out videos!

Suspension and Handling



The Ola S1 uses a very unconventional suspension setup, with a monoshock at the front connected to the wheels with a single-sided swingarm / fork, and an offset, horizontally mounted monoshock at the rear. 12-inch wheels at either end are shod with wide 110/70 R12 MRF Zapper N tubeless tyres.

In terms of the ride, the suspension setup feels at par and as unsophisticated as with the conventional setup on most other scooters. Irregularities on the road surface can be felt, and larger potholes do make their presence felt. The low centre of gravity makes it feel light and flickable. But on the flip side, it feels jittery at higher speeds over broken sections of road and does not have the enthusiastic edge of the suspension setup of the Ather 450.

The 110/70 R12 tyres are wider than offered on the competition. However, with the torque on tap in the Hyper Mode can sometimes make the rear scramble for traction. On surfaces like broken tarmac, gravel, light slush, etc., harsh throttle input can get the tyre to lose grip. Due to the unfavourable weather situation though, I cannot really comment on the performance of these tyres.

Ground Clearance



The S1's ground clearance is rated at 165 mm, which is par for the segment. We got to experience the scooter over some speed-breakers and broken roads and ground clearance did not seem to be a major concern.

Braking



Braking duties are handled by a 220 mm disc brake at the front and a 180 mm disc at the rear. ABS is sorely missed, given the performance on offer. The S1 offers just the mandatory CBS. Levers are of the non-adjustable type, but easily fall to hand and don’t require much effort to pull for hard braking. In fact, the brakes are so sharp that the braking might be termed dangerous. The scooter badly needs ABS to avoid the rear wheel locking up in tricky situations! A little more play and feel on the levers will also be much appreciated.

Regenerative Braking



The Ola spec sheet does not mention regenerative braking. So I asked and received a positive confirmation that regeneration - both automatic and forced is included. Manual regeneration can be engaged by twisting the throttle in the opposite direction. Yes, in case you are new to the EV world, you read that right. However, I cannot attest to this as I could not detect even the slightest hint of regeneration getting engaged despite multiple tries. The Ola team had already clarified that the system does not give any visible indication on the display when the regen is engaged. The opposite twist of the throttle exists for another purpose too - Reverse Assist (explained later).

All our media vehicles were provided with a near full charge and this could be one reason why. The logic implemented in the Ather 450 completely de-activates manual regen when the battery charge is deemed sufficient. So one cannot discount that possibility with the Ola as well.

Reverse Assist





Reverse assist is a feature unique to electric scooters (leaving aside the top-end American cruisers) and the convenience needs to be experienced, especially by ladies and those of us worried about the 792 mm seat height. Those with heavier two-wheelers in the garage will be wondering about the need for such a feature on a scooter, but for at least some, the convenience of being able to pull the bike out of a tricky situation on your own, is unbeatable.

Off idle, hit the dedicated Reverse Assist function on the LHS switchgear and the hazard lamps are turned on, with the scooter also making a warning chime to warn other road users about the reverse movement. Provide accelerator input (twist in the opposite direction of the normal) and the scooter slowly moves backwards as required, with a very gentle creep and at speeds of up to only 2 km/h. The reverse feels a bit weird at first, but it doesn't take much to start appreciating it. The function makes it a breeze to pull the scooter out of parking lots and inclines. Is there a risk of falling while reversing? Not really. I tried giving maximum throttle inputs to try and shake it, but it only moves in a very smooth fashion.

Range and Charging



The Ola S1 Pro comes with a 3.97 kWh battery pack, whereas the S1 gets a 2.98 KW battery pack. Both have a claimed rating of IP67 against the elements and come with a 3 year, unlimited km warranty cover. While On the topic of the battery, Ola also claims that the scooter is "water-resistant" and that the battery is "flame retardant".

The ARAI certified figures are 181 km for the S1 Pro, whereas the base variant makes do with 121 km - both figures as per the IDC cycle. On our test scooter (S1 Pro), the range prediction with 98% charge was of 150 km in the Normal, 121 km in Sport and 94 km in Hyper modes. Leaving aside a big margin for error, a useable range of 100 km in the Normal mode makes the S1 Pro a good candidate for worry-free city commutes for most people, even in the larger metro cities. In case longer runs needing a quick top-up, Ola promises to establish the largest network of superchargers in India in 400+ cities, 100k + charging points, etc. Connected to an OLA hypercharger - the scooter can be topped up with a range of 75 km (ARAI) in just 18 minutes.

For home charging. Ola provides a portable 750 W charger that can charge the scooter from 0% to 100% within 6 hours and 30 minutes on the S1 Pro and 4 hours and 48 minutes on the S1. Ola's Hyperchargers and portable chargers are designed to withstand the elements and rated IP55 and IP67 respectively. The portable charger cuts off automatically once the battery is fully charged while also coming equipped with surge protection. So, it can be left overnight for charging and the convenience is unmatched with the size only double that of an older laptop charger! However, I wonder if it could become a popular target for thieves owing to the small form factor. Owners with basement /stilt parking in large apartments, office facilities, etc. may also think twice before leaving this portable charger unattended for all those hours needed to fully charge the scooter.

Last edited by Aditya : 15th November 2021 at 17:12.
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Old 15th November 2021, 12:00   #6
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the 2-wheeler Section. Thanks for sharing!

Last edited by Aditya : 15th November 2021 at 12:19.
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Old 15th November 2021, 12:43   #7
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Default Re: Ola S1 Electric Scooter Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
  • Proximity unlock / Keyless Access

In fact, Ola wants users to rethink their traditional take on scooters - the case in point being the absence of a physical key! The scooter will be controlled only via a smartphone using either the Ola Electric App or via proximity detection using Bluetooth.

There goes my plan of buying it for mom. She will fret at this thing not having a key and explaining how it works is going to be near impossible.
But its not just that, mom many times she just doesn't carry her phone for errands she does. If it wasn't for Whatsapp, she would have been happy with Nokia 3310.

Overt use of tech for simplest of things is going to be a bane going forward especially for tech-challenged folks like elderly parents (and even for enthusiasts if I am being bold).

Sigh. This would have been perfect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
In fact, the brakes are so sharp that the braking might be termed dangerous. The scooter badly needs ABS to avoid the rear wheel locking up in tricky situations!
This also is making me uncomfortable. They can fix a 100 issues with OTA but not this.

P.S. Great review as always, I have been waiting for it more than anything else in recent history. The last one being the one for Thar V2.

Last edited by amol4184 : 15th November 2021 at 12:57.
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Old 15th November 2021, 12:46   #8
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Default Re: Ola S1 Electric Scooter Review

Awesome and very detailed review of the new Mass Market "eMaharaja" of Scooters. Rated the thread a well deserved 5 *****. I have booked this beauty but, still waiting for the first iteration to complete.

Seems like there are more features under testing and all the initial buyers are going to be their testers. Hope OLA receives all these feedback and do an update.

Last edited by saisree : 15th November 2021 at 12:47.
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Old 15th November 2021, 12:49   #9
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Default Re: Ola S1 Electric Scooter Review

The only problem in this scooter (for me) is that it is a rushed product which is quite visible. Delays in delivery and test rides, the major highlights of your product (cruise control, hyper mode, moods, music) aren't available at launch/in test vehicles and will be provided later via OTA updates. The power delivery will also be corrected via updates.
But other than that, the scooter looks like a very good product. 150 to 160 km real world range in normal mode is just a 14% drop from the claimed 181 km. So the S1 should also deliver somewhere around 100 km which is very good for the price. For me the right time to buy this scooter is 5 to 6 months after the launch when all the niggles will be sorted.
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Old 15th November 2021, 12:56   #10
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Default Re: Ola S1 Electric Scooter Review

Great review CD. Thanks for sharing. When I read the initial impressions from few folks on the other thread, I got a feeling that it still had a lot of work to be done to get to a refined product. Although, the same reflects here, looks like all the refinement is on the software which can be done quickly and seamlessly. With the scale of operations planned, definitely going to create a huge buzz and become a game changer.

Little concerned on the power and torque available and the current inconsistencies around that. If you yourself, being an expert rider and used to high performance bikes were surprised and caught off guard with the behavior, it may take significant getting used to for regular ICE scooter users who make the shift. The inconsistencies in delivery sounds a little dangerous to me. Hope those are fixed before the production units for customers roll out.

Last edited by Rajeevraj : 15th November 2021 at 12:59.
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Old 15th November 2021, 12:57   #11
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Absolutely wowed by the review! Ola can use your photos for marketing material probably. I think the rain helped you in making your photos more delicious!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
However, current fuel prices (petrol having touched Rs. 120 per liter in some states before a slight drop in Diwali) help Ola’s cause and the bookings reflect that.
Absolutely. this is why my father wants an EV instead of an Active which he wanted to replace his Vespa with. Achche din for EVs!

Quote:
Build quality is decent and at par with, if not better than the similarly priced petrol-engined competition. The display scooters were from the pre-production batch and had obvious fit and finish issues, which I could explain over a few paragraphs. But our test ride vehicles barely had anything to complain about. I was also left impressed by the quality of the panels, the paint finish of both the gloss and matte options and the touch and feel of most plastic and rubber parts.
My experience was opposite with this point. Build quality was flimsy and plastics were of poor quality. Possibly they've carefully chosen the vehicle for the media folks and not as careful with the others.

Quote:
However, there is still room for improvement and the Ola management says it will be sorted before customer bikes are delivered. For instance - the switchgear has very poor haptic feedback and feels lifeless, especially when used with gloves on! Some of the buttons (especially the play/pause button on the RHS switchgear) feel like they can be pressed to either side for each function, but that is not the case in reality.
I concur. I wish these buttons were backlit too.

Quote:
Unconventional front end features a single-sided swingarm. No need to worry about the unnaturally small clearance between the front fender and the tyre, because the fender is attached to the swingarm and the monoshock and will move along with the wheel:
I thought it is a monoshock telescopic suspension. The right side cover which looks like a sided swingarm is actually a cover for the disc pad housing and its related hydraulic connections I thought. Spec sheet mentions Front suspension as "Single fork"

Quote:
Charging slot is neatly concealed at the rear:
The rear charging slot makes it tough when you have to use public chargers as you have to park the vehicel in reverse. The reverse mode will help here a lot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
However, a lot of women prefer to sit sideways on these scooters and a side step footrest will be sorely missed. This could become a deal-breaker for some. Ola says this is a design tradeoff that they had to make, but IMHO, it should not have been the case considering they are not just targeting the youth / urban markets.
I was told that this would be part of the accessories along with a side step and all round body guard


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Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
However, I wonder if it could become a popular target for thieves owing to the small form factor. Owners with basement /stilt parking in large apartments, office facilities, etc. may also think twice before leaving this portable charger unattended for all those hours needed to fully charge the scooter.
True I'm already thinking of a protective case around the charger to keep it safe.
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Old 15th November 2021, 13:00   #12
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Very detailed official review as usual. Beautiful images. Rated 5 stars.

Quote:

Ola S1 Cons



• Despite being priced well, the S1 is still significantly more expensive than the ubiquitous volume-seller, the Honda Activa (without state subsidies, where applicable)
Activa 6g costs Rs 90,000 on road in Bangalore. Ola S1 costs ~Rs 110,000. In Karnataka, there are no additional state subsidies. I don't think Rs 20,000 is a significant amount when you consider the fuel prices and substantial savings with an EV. This Rs 20,000 difference can be recovered in 1 year with the usage of 10,000 km per year. Also, there is a huge market of 125cc scooters. Suzuki access, Activa 125 TVS ntorq, Vespas, etc... sell around 1 lakh scooters per month combined. Prices for these start from Rs 1 lakh which makes the difference even lesser.

I feel traditional companies are in for a rude shock in the coming months. Ola has enough resources to develop and produce multiple EVs in large quantities at competitive prices. Exciting times are ahead for EV enthusiasts.

Last edited by sri_tesla : 15th November 2021 at 13:02.
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Old 15th November 2021, 13:08   #13
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A little birdie tells me long term reliability is highly questionable as parts quality is suspect. They've not been put through typical auto quality testing standards sufficiently due to a push to market and have been forewarned not to touch a new one for the first year. While this seems to have become typical in many auto launches of late, this may be a case of concern for a new player to avoid being written off as soon as they launch. Did you guys during the review feel everything was sturdy enough to last the rigour of a 5-8 year ownership cycle in the city?
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Old 15th November 2021, 13:31   #14
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Originally Posted by immortalmechano View Post
A little birdie tells me long term reliability is highly questionable as parts quality is suspect. They've not been put through typical auto quality testing standards sufficiently due to a push to market and have been forewarned not to touch a new one for the first year. While this seems to have become typical in many auto launches of late, this may be a case of concern for a new player to avoid being written off as soon as they launch. Did you guys during the review feel everything was sturdy enough to last the rigour of a 5-8 year ownership cycle in the city?
Having ridden it and checking on how strikingly similar it is to the Etergo's design, it has to be noted that they have not tinkered with the mechanicals ( the Chasis , Electric motor mount and suspension setup, aesthetics and proportions and design of Etergo AppScooter. Full marks to Ola.

Long term reliability would be alright owing to less parts in electric vehicles with most of the engineering and design tuning already done before Ola acquired. They have stated a 3 year warranty and 40K kms warranty. You have assurance of 3 years if not 5 to 8 Years

If at all anything is suspect, its the gimmicky software features that Ola is trying to add and still has kept it in Beta mode.
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Old 15th November 2021, 13:53   #15
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Default Re: Ola S1 Electric Scooter Review

I was reading the Autocarindia review here and found this below paragraph. What was your experience about this CrAzY dRiVeR?

Quote:
But all this performance came at a cost. After about 10 minutes of sustained riding in Hyper mode, there was a drastic reduction in performance that came without any warning or error message on the TFT dash. Top speed and acceleration were both significantly dulled, and by the end of it, the scooter felt downright lethargic, barely able to pick up speed going up an incline. After leaving it stationary for about 5-10 minutes, the performance began to return, indicating that this is probably a thermal issue with either the motor or the battery. Ola says that it will work on this, and that it can be fixed with better software management, but we'll have to see how that pans out. As things stand today, a number of scooters at the test location faced a severe reduction in performance after about 10 minutes of riding in Hyper mode.
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