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Got my Ola S1 Pro Freedom Edition: Buying process & initial impressions

We almost made the TVS Jupiter booking, when a colleague at work fiddled with my mind. He said “Electric” is the way forward and that I should buy an e-scooter.

BHPian msarunms1987 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

April-2022: It was around the time things were turning back to normal (after a couple of years of disturbance that COVID had caused) and this is when my son’s school started calling us for our consent to send him to school.

Fast forward… May-2022.

We already had a Mahindra Gusto and a Mahindra Scorpio (named Mufasa) at our garage. I drove Mufasa to work and sometimes dropped my son to his school. Dad rode the Gusto to his work. The Gusto had a short window where Wifey could take it for the school drop-off. She would otherwise take a rickshaw and sometimes walk to get things done – whenever the timings did not match.

It took a couple of weeks for us to realize that we needed another 2-wheeler at home. When we bought the Gusto 5.5 years ago, I was disappointed that we did not buy a TVS Jupiter. So, naturally, my first thought was that we would go for a Jupiter. We almost made the booking, when a colleague at work fiddled with my mind. He said “Electric” is the way forward and that I should buy an e-Scooter.
That was the time when there were viral videos of people burning their own e-Scooters and some, being lucky enough that their scooters caught fire without their intervention; Some broke their front suspension, some could not ride up the inclines and then there were explosions at the showroom/service-stations.

All these news articles made me not even think about e-Scooters until the colleague applauded the TVS iQube. Even better, he offered his spare Petrol-Scooter to me to fill in for the waiting period.

I did not even test-ride it (there were extensive positive reviews about it on the web), but I pre-booked the iQube ST; Little did I know that the estimated delivery date would be postponed from August-2022 to September-2022 and then a vacuum in the month of September!

OOT: I cannot miss to say that I was patient during all these 4 months of waiting only because our Mufasa made way to Bhairava, our new Toyota Innova Crysta GX AY 8-Str. Had this distraction (actually a blessing) not happened in June-2022, I probably would not have had the patience to wait this long.

Anyway, all the modes of communication were tried – but the only answer TVS customer care gave was that, they were sorry for the delay and that, they did not know when the deliveries would start.

All those 4 months of waiting went in vain. I was doing an afternoon trip from work to the school, to the home and then back to work - on a daily basis. This is not what we had signed up for!

With frustration, I cancelled the pre-booking. Went straight into an Ather experience center and booked a 450x (this time after a test-ride). The power, torque and the tech were excellent. It reminded me of our Honda Dio, which served us for nearly 5 years before our current Gusto. I liked everything, but not the front-leaning rider's seating posture (that sporty naked motor-bike stance) – wifey had no problem with it and this is how we went ahead with the booking. We were so excited that we almost forgot to ask for the waiting period. Just when we were about to leave the experience center, I felt something was amiss and thought for a moment. Damn – I did not even ask when they would deliver.

Walked up to the sales executive and to our disappointment, learnt that we would have to wait for another 90 days!

Another dream shatters. With disappointment, we headed back home. I was tired and wanted to take a nap. But the 90-days waiting period was bothering me.

To be frank, I had never considered OLA seriously till this point, but the thought of giving it a thought (LOL) came to my mind.

I was suddenly reminded of the sense-of-happiness I had felt, back in April, when I had test ridden an Ola S1 Pro at my office premise. Yes, you do have benefits of working in some prime office spaces like the World Trade Center – You get to see movie shoots (I have seen several Kannada, Telugu stars shooting here and even Bollywood stars – Kareena, Katrina, Vidya Balan, Imran Khan etc). You even get to take a glimpse of some things that the rest of the world would not even have seen yet – Toyota Fortuner Legender ad was shot here; Ola S1 Pro ad was shot here. Same was the case with the Toyota Vellfire ad-shoot. Many of the automobile companies have had a camp here – Harley Davidson, Hyosung, VW, Skoda, Mercedes, Maruti Suzuki Nexa – to name some.

Anyway, coming back to the topic: Ola had organized a camp here where they provided test-rides and promised deliveries within 3 days of booking. Those were the days, people who had pre-booked the OLAs were venting out their frustration on the niggles they were seeing in their new scooters and even worse, a small number of owners that had extremely serious issues like the scooter auto-reversing, etc.

I had test-ridden it then, in April-2022, just to experience an e-scooter. I was pretty impressed with the design, the performance & the features it offered. But all the negative marketing outside, kept me away from even thinking about booking one.

With all this impression I had, I started looking at the latest OLA S1 Pro reviews and videos that were on the web. I saw the internet divided over the goodness of the scooter.

My take-away at the end of the two hours were:

  • Not every scooter caught fire.
  • Not every scooter’s front suspension broke.
  • Not every scooter automatically switched to the reverse gear.
  • Not every scooter disengaged the side-stand.

Laugh at me, but I am a firm believer of this quote: "Be appreciative, optimistic and positive about life.".

Although the articles/videos stated the problems, there was no 100% (and there probably can never be) coverage on what actually might have led to these issues. I am not dismissing these issues and the owners who faced these issues, but I really felt that it might be wrong to judge a product based on the one-off occurrences.

Every product will have niggles in the beginning. I started looking at the new investments that OLA was making. I saw quite a few interviews of the CEO, Bhavish Agarwal - I felt that this guy had stuff. He is a visionary. I thought it is worth giving OLA a chance (while I knew it was actually me, who was taking a chance!).

Things slowly started falling in place. The more and more I saw that scooter, I started developing a liking towards that fluidic design. In the next one hour (on 4th September-2022), I booked the all-new Ola S1 Pro, opted for the split-payment option made the full payment via instant Credit-card loan (only to realize that I had made a stupid mistake – will tell you more about it later)!

Fast-forward, 20th September-2022, I received the scooter at my doorstep.

OLA was very prompt & pro-active in keeping me informed about every step and what I should be looking forward to.

Now that I have bored you with a lot of text, it is time to show you some pictures.

Disclaimer: I am not going to review the complete scooter as there is already (Ola S1 Electric Scooter Review)a post doing so. I am just going to highlight a few things that I felt are interesting.

The charger mount and the charger have been setup and locked in our portico:

Here is a look at the MRF Zapper-N tire. They are 110/70-12 section tires and the tread pattern looks very good to me. They are wider than the other usual scooter tires and offer excellent road grip. Even the alloy wheel with that touch of gloss-black paint looks very premium:

Well, it does look like the front tire of an Auto Rickshaw to me:

You must have figured out by now. Yes, the colour I booked is the Khaki (not sure why they named it this way – this is more like Olive green or popularly called as Military green of the Royal Enfields). Ola calls it the Freedom Edition. And here is an exclusive badge on the rear-sides:

More side views:

And the front view – I just love how sleek it looks. Don’t judge the size of the scooter by looking at the pictures. I parked it next to our Gusto and even uncle’s Suzuki Access. This thing towers over both of them:

Now the rear:

This the rider's POV:

My 4.5 year-old son is obsessed with popping the charging-point-cap up and down. He has done it about 10 times already in the last 12 hours. With so many people complaining about it and me thinking of it to be so flimsy, I just hope this thing lasts the next few months:

 The left and the right console buttons – they look nice and sturdy to me. Not sure why some think they are of cheap quality:

I was surprised, looking at the quality of the first-aid and tools pouches. Observe that they have the text written – “Made from responsibly sourced and recyclable materials”:

Now is the time to tell you about the stupid mistake I made.

I am typically used to seeing special editions as separate product listings on the seller’s website – take a few examples: Tata Safari Dark Edition, Royal Enfield Desert Storm (Although, I think this is illogical, considering that these special editions most of the times mean a mere change in body colour). Anyway, whether I like it or not, this is what I see on almost all the automobile manufacturer’s websites.

And guess what, it looks like OLA thought like me. They thought it made sense to include this KHAKI Freedom Edition colour also as one among the others. I was pretty happy about this and although the Ex-Showroom price was shown just above the picture, I failed to notice it.

I was at the middle of the payment when I realized that I was paying something more than what I thought I was supposed to be paying. But again, my frustration from the Ather waiting-period and me cancelling the TVS booking were overruling my thoughts. I went ahead with the payment. Yes, I paid an extra Rs. 10,000 for the special edition! Only to get what? A different colour? NO!

I got a tan coloured seat cover for that extra 10K that was listed as just “Accessories” in the Quote/Order.

And that too, for something that is not even applied/fit neatly. It has wrinkles and for the 10K premium paid, I expected OLA to do a neat job here. Not done, OLA!

Now, my most favourite part: The under-seat storage. It is almost like a well and can fit in two large sized Royal Enfield Helmets (not the full face helmet with jaw-protection). I have also placed an A4 sheet to give you an idea of the size. Just love this storage space:

And this is one thing that I felt, OLA should have done something better: You tend to rub your shoes against the side panels when you apply or remove the side stand. I guess it just takes a while for the muscle memory to kick-in, but this was my first impression. And the middle hump/bump did not seem to be too much of a botheration for me as I don’t use it to carry luggage:

Now the most important part - the price break up:

I would like to end this post by saying that I am extremely happy with my Ola S1 Pro Khaki Freedom edition purchase, the purchase-experience and the performance tests I have done (in a mere 4 KMs - the scooter had already run 2 kms by the time it was delivered to me).

The Ola Electric App is also a bliss. It lets you name your scooter, see the battery status, range available, raise support ticket, read the user manual, play music, etc.

And the delivery technician mentioned that ours was the first ever Khaki edition delivered in Bengaluru. Not sure of its authenticity, but hey, an exciting and a cool thing to know, isn’t it?

Yes, like many others who are even scared to book an OLA scooter, I was (and still am) skeptical about the after-sales support, looking at so many complaints from owners all around the country, but hey come on! Which OEM has no complaints on customer support?

I just hope that OLA learns from their mistakes, listens to their customers and gets better at it.

I have taken this big leap of faith and I hope to keep this forum up-to-date on my experiences with the scooter and the customer-support.

Signing off with this picture of my son being very happy on our new scooter:

This is all for now. Thank you.

PS: If you haven't noticed yet, we named our scooter, MAYA.

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