A few weeks ago, Ola Electric announced its intentions to build Ola Futurefoundry – a £100M global centre of engineering located in none other than the oh so glamorous Coventry, UK. Does this move further cement Coventry’s position as the ultimate mobility hub??
The facility will become its global hub for design and engineering of 2 wheel and 4 wheel vehicle design, “advance high performance automotive engineering” and new energy systems including cell technologies. The company is currently known for being India’s largest mobility platform and sold its scooters at a rate of 4 a second in September 2021.
Bhavish Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Ola said “At Ola we are building the future of mobility and continue to attract the best global talent across disciplines. Ola Futurefoundry will enable us to tap into the fantastic automotive design and engineering talent in the UK to create the next generation of electric vehicles. Futurefoundry will work in close collaboration with our headquarters in Bangalore, India to help us build the future of mobility as we make EVs affordable across the world.”
Coventry – home to inordinate quantities of concrete and the world’s worst ringroad may not seem the obvious choice for creating the future of mobility for those less familiar with the automotive industry. However, should you find yourself in Leamington Spa and clock a 23 year old stepping out of a Range Rover or Aston Martin sporting their best sunglasses – you can be rest assured that it absolutely isn’t theirs and is more likely a test vehicle they’re taking up to Nuneaton for testing but relishing the notion that it could look like theirs. (I too have been guilty of this circa. 2014)
The West Midlands’ automotive presence doesn’t end with Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin. Electric Vehicle Platform maker REE has operations at MIRA, LEVC is popping out electric taxis in Coventry and if you’re in search of a little more Cotswolds charm with your vehicles – then Arrival is only a stone’s throw down the M40.
Coventry has a long automotive history and was even home to the first automotive factory in 1896 which produced vehicles capable of an almighty 12mph for Daimler Motor Company. Over the years a whole host of automotive companies have come and gone including Austin, Wolseley, Humber, Alvis and Hillman. A trip to Coventry Motor Museum (genuinely worth a visit) tells the whole story.
However, what’s even more interesting than the traditional car marques is the bubbling activity around new and future mobility. Callum Designs, who are perhaps better known for projects such as the Vanquish 25, have been working closely with Transport for West Midlands on sustainable new urban mobility concepts including the supporting infrastructure.
In just a few months time, Urban-Air Port will reveal their first Urban Vertiport for E-VTOLs (electric vertical take and landing a.k.a flying taxis) in the centre of Coventry. The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre is located slap bang in the middle of this mobility hubbub and last week, Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council gave the greenlight for plans for a Gigafactory which will generate 6,000 new jobs.
Ola’s growing presence in the City is a nod, not just to the long automotive history, but to the years of local expertise and openness from local governments to support the next wave of future mobility. Fast forward to 2025 and I wouldn’t be surprised if Coventry is the first place in the UK where you could regularly hail an EVTOL to get to work.
And if you’re a budding automotive designer fearful that Coventry is perhaps less illustrious than the draw of Palo Alto – fear not, the area’s second string to its bow is the high density of delightful brunch spots – with the current top spot going to Trof LMS.
About the author
Imogen Pierce works in sustainable mobility and future technology for Fully Charged. She is an alumni of electric vehicle startup Arrival where she was Head of City Engagement and Integration working with cities to understand, develop and accelerate their future mobility ambitions. Imogen has also worked in Experience Strategy looking at future technology and mobility trends. Prior to Arrival, Imogen was an aerodynamicist at Jaguar Land Rover before running the company’s technology and innovation communications. She can be found on Medium musing and wittering about sustainable mobility.