India is going big on electric. While India’s central government has continued to show its aggressive stance and push for EVs off late, it is now Flipkart, India’s most valued tech startup, that is following up on the same. In an interview to Mint, Flipkart’s Senior VP Amitesh Jha talked about the company’s plans to go electric.
“The objective is to be hundred percent EV,” said Jha. “How long it will take will obviously depend on multiple kinds of things like, what is the charging capacity, how far they can go, what kind of network we have. But 40% is a number that we feel very confident just based on the manufacturing capability for our partners, as well as our requirement right now that we should be able to do actually within a year.”
According to him, the first step to achieving that ambitious goal will be deploying close to 160 e-vans across cities by the end of this year. When achieved, this would give Flipkart a unique distinction of being the first e-commerce platform in India to use electric mobility on a mass scale. As of now, it is using eight EVs in Hyderabad, 10 in New Delhi and 30 electric bikes in Bengaluru.
Flipkart’s EV push is interesting, as well as logical. Interesting, because its parent Walmart is also pushing for newer delivery methods (read drones). Walmart has filed as many as 97 patents for drone delivery alone with the World Intellectual Property Organization, according to management accounting firm BDO.
Logical, for two reasons. One, the pure economics when it comes to logistics are heavily in favour of EV. Running costs of electric vehicles are far lesser when compared with traditional diesel or petrol ones. This will help Flipkart drastically reduce logistics costs. Also, with time, EVs have become cheap as well, making it easier to procure them.
Secondly, players getting into EVs at mass will benefit from a number of Indian government-backed schemes and subsidies. Indian government is already eyeing regulation for companies like Uber and Ola, to mandate them to turn their taxi fleet into electric. Flipkart’s 2020 goal would insulate the company from any such future regulations. All of this ultimately works out well for the cash guzzling Flipkart, which is eyeing an IPO and hence profitability.
In the past six months, Flipkart has achieved impressive results in multiple pilots with electric vehicles. The company is also setting up the necessary charging infrastructure at its hubs to prepare for mass deployment of electric vehicles.
“Our team is working with local ecosystem partners to help them co-design concepts for electric vehicles best suited for the growing e-commerce industry,” Kalyan Krishnamurthy, group CEO of Flipkart, said in a statement. “We believe these small but meaningful steps in this direction will go a long way in paving the way for larger adoption of EVs in the country.”