Mahi Electric Looks for a Growth Spark from Startups
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.