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

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Sharmistha.Mukher­jee @times­group.com

HAND IN HAND

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.

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