Lithium Urban to Help Mahindra Accelerate its Electric Vehicle Plan Bengaluru-based startup plans to build a fleet of 1,000 electric vehicles over the next 18-24 months
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New Delhi: Bengaluru-based corporate transport service startup Lithium Urban Technologies plans to build a fleet of 1,000 electric vehicles over the next 18-24 months, giving a boost to electric carmaker Mahindra Electric’s dream to take electric vehicles to the masses.
The firm has a long-term alliance with Mahindra Electric and is working with them to customise and procure vehicles for corporate transport and subsequently for commercial application by ecommerce companies, said Sanjay Krishnan, chief executive officer at Lithium Urban Technologies.
Lithium, the only cab operator with an all-electric fleet, currently offers employee transportation services in Bengaluru to firms including Tesco, Unisys, Accenture and Adobe, with a fleet of 250 vehicles. It is in the process of commencing operations in the National Capital Region (NCR) and plans to enter Chennai and Pune over the next few months, Krishnan said.
It also plans to foray into the cargo transportation segment, initially by commencing a pilot project with an ecommerce company in Bengaluru and Delhi in the next few weeks.
“Besides, being environmentfriendly, the running costs of electric vehicles are extremely attractive. We believe electric vehicles can also be deployed effectively for transporting/delivering cargo,” Krishnan said. “We have been working with Mahindra on the ideal specifications for such a vehicle and will be soon starting a pilot project with a major ecommerce company to gauge the opportunities,” he said.
Lithium is a technologydriven company that uses information on all parameters related to the vehicle, including rides, network, service, and maintenance via a cloud network to optimise running costs, Krishnan said.
The synchronisation has helped it to become operationally profitable within 10 months of commencing operations and the company will be PBT (profit before tax) positive by July 2017, he said. The firm has raised $5 million in debt and equity so far. The interventions being considered by startups such as Lithium can help scale up demand for India’s only electric car company which has struggled to grow volumes in the personal transport space over the last few years. Mahindra now hopes that increased commercial application will help increase visibility of electric cars and build supporting infrastructure.
“Electric vehicles in the personal segment are mostly bought by working professionals who have environmental concerns. But given running costs are really low and stand at about 70 paise per km, electric vehicles are well suited for commercial uses too,” said Mahesh Babu, chief executive officer at Mahindra Electric.
“Lithium has been able to operate our cars profitably. As of now, we are in discussions with several startups for deploying our vehicles for both passenger and freight transport. We expect volumes in the category to grow 10 fold in the next two to three years,” he said. Mahindra Electric sold around 1,000 electric cars last year.