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EV makers target delivery, logistics firms to widen market

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ET Tech
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Electric vehicle makers are seeing traction in selling to ecommerce players, last-mile delivery providers and third-party logistics companies in a step to widen market access for green energy products, before they could make a dent in the passenger segment in the country.

Greaves Cotton-owned Ampere Vehicles has made its entry into the ecommerce segment through a deal with BigBasket.

With tie-ups with schools, hospitals and real estate companies for its range of electric vehicles, Ampere has a growing business-to-business vertical supporting its range: "We see a huge potential here, especially for the two-wheelers," COO Sanjeev P said.

For use cases such as last-mile delivery, the electric proposition is an appealing fit.

The Ampere Zeal scooter is fitted with carriers to enable load-carrying. "Our electric proposition has a clear commercial aspect: cheaper rides per kilometre, convenient charge-and-go applications and tracking facility," Sanjeev said.

BigBasket, which services 2.5 lakh customer orders across 26 cities, will begin introducing Ampere vehicles by February.

At 70 paise a km, including charging costs, electric vehicles are clearly cheaper than fossil fuel-driven vehicles, said KB Nagaraju, BigBasket's chief customer experience officer.

Mumbai-based Dexpress has custom-built an electric scooter for institutional buyers. It is in the process of finalising a deal with bike taxi company Rapido, founder and chief executive Chandrakant Jain said. "As of now, we have supply-chain clients such as Ninjacart and Delhivery; bike-sharing is showing much more promise now," said Jain.

Ecommerce players such as BigBasket are also contemplating setting up charging infrastructure at their hubs and warehouses.

Wybren van der Vaart, a cofounder of charging solutions startup BrightBlu, said the viability of the segment depended on the uptime of the vehicles: "Either the vehicles need to be able to charge fast or battery swapping needs to be possible," he said.

Consumer-facing electric vehicle manufacturers, too, have spotted a channel in tapping the business-to-business segment for their scooters. Sachin Bansal-backed Ather on Monday unveiled 'Together Electric', a corporate partnership programme that entails easy product access, some privileges like merchandise and office charging for employees of corporate houses. Already, Bengaluru's Lithium has more than 1,000 Mahindra electric vehicles on its fleet, ferrying people to their offices.

The Centre has sanctioned 2,636 charging stations across the country as part of its clean mobility drive, FAME II. Of these, 973 charging points will come up in South India. According to professors at the Centre for Battery Engineering and Electric Vehicles at IIT-Madras, costs of battery packs would drop consistently in the next two-three years on better chemical research into components that go into a battery.

According to investment trackers, last year witnessed several important strategic investments such as Hero Motocorp's investment in Ather and MitsuiPE's stake in SmartE. Total investments in electric vehicle companies topped $464 million, up from $147 million in 2018, according to valuation research company Venture Intelligence.

Author: Sustainability Outlook Desk