South Africa’s MellowVans Has An EV Solution for Cargo Last Mile

The gap between two wheelers and larger cargo vehicles is what MellowVans, an EV manufacturing startup from South Africa is targeting. It's a big market in India too.

Officially, India has less than 10,000 Electric vehicles on the roads currently. But as we all know, there is a world outside the official world of subsidies. The uniquitous E-Rickshaws were, until recently, not even counted among the EV’s in India, all 1.5 million of them. Unregulated and unlicensed and unsubsidised till a couple of years back, these popular vehicles rose on the back of a poor public transport system that failed to make last mile  connections at an economical price. A gap the E-rickshaws filled very well.

MellowVans, a South African child of the EV revolution, aims to do something similar for the small cargo market in the world.

And unlike the basic  E-Rickshaws and their limitations, running mostly on lead acid batteries, depending on a largely unorganised charging network, and prone to maintainance issues, the MellowVans  operating model comes with a lot of positives.  The founder and CEO of the firm is Neil du Preez , a gradate in Environmental Management, with a passion to build light electric vehicles that provide low cost, efficient and emission-free transport services in cities.

The MellowVan is a cargo only EV that claims to have seen enough market traction across global markets to feel excited about. The van, which has a 4KW motor running on a battery pack of about 9 kWh (Lithium Iron Phosphate), claims to run for 100km per charge. That compares favourably with our E-rickshaws, though those tend to be packed in with far higher loads, including 6 passengers at times. It could nominally fill the gap between two wheelers and larger delivery vehicles in the EV space, where the Mahindra Esupro is one in India.

However, unlike the functional E-rickshaws, the MellowVan offers an option that will presumably meet the far more stricter licensing requirements of the commercial haulage market. Thus, it seeks to be the bridge between two wheelers and larger delivery vehicles, offering a higher load capacity and a compact size,offering both size and flexibility to handle the twists and turns of last mile delivery. The vans come with 2.4 meters of cargo space and  offer custom racking too. The firm’s founder has gone on record with a claim that it has been designed with both general parcels and food delivery in mind. It’s lockable cargo area has a decent 2.4 cubic meters of cargo space with a maximum load capacity of 150 kg.

But where the company really innovates it its consumer model. MellowVan come with a leasing model. That seeks to overcome any capex related shyness at this stage with its no deposit lease plan . Sadly, the firm does make the mistake of hoping to make monies of advertising on its well designed vehicles, a model that could struggle to gain traction in a market like India, with both reluctant media buyers and municipal laws. Though it is possibly a condition it won’t face as much in its key global markets.


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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna Singh

Prasanna Singh is the founder at IamRenew

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