Mahi Elec­tric Looks for a Growth Spark from Star­tups

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech - Supraja.Srini­vasan @times­group.com

Mum­bai: One of the few man­u­fac­tur­ers of elec­tric ve­hi­cles in In­dia, Mahin­dra Elec­tric is tar­get­ing a 2-3 times growth in 2017 and is knock­ing on star­tups’ doors to achieve the same. The hy­brid ve­hi­cle maker launched four vari­ants in 2016 — e2o plus, eVer­ito, eSupro Van in cargo and pas­sen­ger ver­sion — and is look­ing to flood the mar­ket with hy­brid mod­els this year.

BigBas­ket has been us­ing about 10 Mahin­dra eSupro vans for its in­tracity last-mile de­liv­ery in Noida and looks to in­crease the num­ber to 50 over the next 3-6 months. “We are us­ing the Mahin­dra eSupro com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle in place of Maruti Eeco. This has helped us to han­dle more or­ders per trip lead­ing to re­duc­tion in cost per or­der, which helps us with bet­ter unit eco­nom­ics of our de­liv­ery sys­tem,” KB Na­garaju, Na­tional Head of Op­er­a­tions and Cus­tomer Ser­vice at BigBas­ket told ET.

BigBas­ket is only one of the many star­tups that are toy­ing with the idea of us­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles in a bid to edge closer to prof­itabil­ity.

“Elec­tric mo­bil­ity is cheaper as the cost of travel per km is much cheaper than a fuel-driven ve­hi­cle. So wher­ever mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions have to be met, it is easy to adapt to elec­tric ve­hi­cles and since it is a pre­dictable route, it be­comes easy to cal­cu­late the ex­pense in­volved and thus be­come eco­nom­i­cally vi­able,” Ma­hesh Babu, CEO of Mahin­dra Elec­tric told ET.

“At full-scale de­ploy­ment of 50 ve- hi­cles, we can save about ₹ 1 crore per an­num. We are keenly watch­ing this pi­lot and for the ve­hi­cles to prove re­li­able. Based on that, we will take a de­ci­sion on (in­creas­ing) the num­ber (of ve­hi­cles be­ing used),’ said Na­garaju. The com­pany has been test­ing pi­lots with Ben­galuru-based cor­po­rate trans­port ser­vice startup Lithium Ur-

ban Tech­nolo­gies and on­line gro­cery firm BigBas­ket for some of its Delhi op­er­a­tions. ET had re­ported ear­lier that Lithium Ur­ban Tech­nolo­gies, which cur­rently of­fers em­ployee trans­porta­tion ser­vices to firms in Ben­galuru such as Tesco, Unisys, Ac­cen­ture and Adobe, is look­ing to quadru­ple its ex­ist­ing fleet of 250 elec­tric vehi-

cles to 1,000 in two years.

Mahin­dra Elec­tric is also in talks with ag­gre­ga­tors like Ola, Zoom­cars, Myles and oth­ers to be­gin pi­lots in ac­cor­dance with the gov­ern­ment’s mis­sion for large-scale adop­tion of clean en­ergy-driven mo­bil­ity. “Cre­at­ing smart, sus­tain­able and eco-friendly trans­porta­tion so­lu­tions, like shared mo­bil­ity and elec­tric ve­hi­cles, have be­come more im­por­tant than ever. We are hon­oured to part­ner with the gov­ern­ment in its mis­sion to pro­mote sus­tain­able mo­bil­ity with cat­e­gories like ‘Ola Share’ and ‘E-rick­shaws’ on our plat­form,” said Pranay Jivra­jka, Found­ing Part­ner of Ola Cabs.

But ag­gre­ga­tors be­lieve that de­spite gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies and in­cen­tives for elec­tric and hy­brid ve­hi­cles, eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity will re­main a dream un­less large-scale adop­tion is seen. Chal­lenges such as range anx­i­ety (the dis­tance that a hy­brid ve­hi­cle can cover with one full bat­tery charge), down­time for driv­ers dur­ing the charg­ing process of ve­hi­cles and clar­ity over re­spon­si­bil­ity of build­ing charg­ing sta­tions for such ve­hi­cles need to be ad­dressed first, say ag­gre­ga­tors.

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