World’s Only All-Women Automotive Factory Cranks Into Action

Portrait of a young woman using face mask driving a forklift in a warehouse.
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India’s Ola Electric Mobility might specialize in making electric scooters, but it also made history this week when it became the world’s largest women-only factory and the only all-women automotive manufacturing facility globally.

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The milestone was hailed in a tweet from Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO of Olacabs, who wrote: “Proud to share that the Ola Futurefactory will be run ENTIRELY by women, 10,000+ at full scale! It’ll be the largest all-women factory in the world!”

The first group of workers started this week at the factory, which will cost $330 million to complete, Bloomberg reported. It aims to produce 10 million two-wheelers every year, or roughly 15% of the world’s e-scooters.

The e-scooter venture is a follow-up to ride-hailing startup Ola, which is expected to make its debut on public markets in 2022. Aggarwal told Bloomberg that his vision for his newest venture is to provide “clean mobility, a carbon-negative footprint, and an inclusive workforce.”

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Ola Electric aims to build a scooter every two seconds following a planned expansion next year. The factory will include 3,000 robots working alongside the all-female workforce. The venture is backed by SoftBank Group Corp. and Tiger Global Management.

Aggarwal’s longer-term goal is to assemble a full lineup of electric vehicles, including three-wheelers and cars. His company’s inaugural S1 e-scooter will be priced at $1,360 (99,999 rupees) and compete with traditional two-wheelers in India. Exports should begin later this year.

“Enabling women with economic opportunities improves not just their lives but that of their families and indeed the whole community,” Aggarwal said.

The women in the factory are mostly graduates from in and around the southern state of Tamil Nadu, Quartz India reported on Monday. They’re being trained to fill various technical roles that range from production assistants to supervisors.

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Ola isn’t the first company to have a 100% female factory in India. As Quartz India noted, industrial valve producer Kirloskar Brothers has operated a women-only factory in Coimbatore for more than a decade, and consumer goods giant Hindustan Unilever has operated one since December 2014.

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But these companies are rare. On average, women fill only 12% of manufacturing jobs in India, according to Quartz India.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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