Mahindra & Uber To Kick Off EV Connectivity Pilot This Month

Leading electric vehicles manufacturer Mahindra and Mahindra is in talks with as many as 10 entities to supply 20,000 electric 3 and 4 wheelers in the country.

Among them is Uber with which the EV maker and auto giant is starting a pilot project for zero emission last mile connectivity.

“We signed a MoU with the Thane Municipal Corporation. We are also in serious talks with at least 3-4 cities to set up fleet of electric vehicles. We will hopefully be announcing a project with Uber very soon and a pilot will be started later this month,” said Pawan Goenka, Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra to a financial daily.

“There are some private operators who are talking of ramping up their fleet to 2,000-3,000 cars in 3-4 months in Delhi,” added Goenka. The development could mean other upcoming car aggregators like the BLU-smart which was launched earlier in January and other service providers like Meru and Ola.

The Uber project has taken Mahindra more than two years to reach fruition. Mahindra & Mahindra and Uber had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2017 to provide last mile zero emission connectivity in Indian cities.

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Despite the high cost, several municipal corporations are now adopting green mobility at the behest of the government. In addition, private transport companies that have got licence to operate in cities are also gradually shifting to zero emission vehicles. Mahindra is in talks with the authorities in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru amongst other cities to supply and operate electric taxis and three wheelers.

With people reluctant to buy electric cars for personal use due to higher costs and charging infrastructure constraints, Mahindra Electric has been focusing on the fleet taxi segment.

Last year, M&M launch four variants of lithium-ion battery-powered three-wheeler under the brand Treo and Treo Yaari with prices starting at Rs 1.36 lakh. Goenka further added that the cities will add 40-50 units each of electric three- and four-wheelers with an option for a further ramp up.

Mahindra has a plant capacity of producing 1,000 electric three-wheelers a month. However, the company feels constrained presently to ramp up freely because of limited supply from its parts suppliers.

“We’re waiting for the FAME-2 scheme to be announced and assuming that the incentive for three-wheelers does not reduce… I think we have a very good commercial proposition on three-wheelers,” Goenka said. “And in three-wheelers, at least half a dozen people are talking to us right now with a potential fleet size of 2,000-3,000 each.”

The recent government policy move that has imposed 5 percent duty on lithium-ion battery cells which were duty-free until now. Earlier EV battery and EV cells both were duty-free. This can make Electric car like M&M eVerito more expensive by about Rs 16,000-17,000. Reason being there are several manufacturers in India who make lithium-ion batteries but no company makes the cells.

M&M is the second biggest beneficiary of the 10,000 electric cars order from Delhi-based state-owned company Energy Efficiency Service (EESL). Additionally, Mahindra has orders for 5,000-6,000 units for electric cars. The company is now readying to launch KUV and XUV 300 electric SUVs in the next 12-18 months. The company has committed more than ₹1,000-crore investments on the EV business.

In other developments, Mahindra & Mahindra, has also set its eyes on electrification of some of the models of its South Korean arm SsangYong Motor, a top company official said. Elaborating on the SsangYong project, CEO Mahesh Babu told media agencies that Mahindra Electric will sell some of the powertrains and electric parts to the South Korean auto firm.

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