EVs Becoming the Preferred Choice for Last-Mile Connectivity in India: Interview

A commercial electric vehicle operates on 1/6th of the running cost of a petrol/ diesel-fuelled vehicle, Saurav said


Backed by the government’s robust push, India’s electric mobility segment is poised to take off. In 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has realized the significance of renewable energy and electric transportation, nudging countries globally to switch to cleaner ways of commuting.

India is beginning to see a range of new electric mobility companies offering solutions, like last-mile connectivity and intra-state transportation. Mercom talked to one such newly-founded company, Euler Motors, to understand the industry from their perspective – their challenges in 2020, goals, and outlook for the next year.

Here are the edited excerpts of Mercom’s conversation with Saurav Kumar, Founder & CEO of Euler Motors.

1. What is Euler Motors’ business model, and who are some of your biggest clients? 

Euler Motors is an automotive OEM that manufactures light commercial electric vehicles for intra-city transportation. The company was set up in 2018 with the core objective to accelerate India’s shift to sustainable mobility.

Mass adoption of EVs has many challenges, right from lack of supporting infrastructure, performance to range anxiety. Our approach was to address these challenges while making customers comfortable with the idea of transitioning to EVs. Using a full-stack ecosystem model, we have not just manufactured vehicles but provided a complete round the clock service and charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. We are running pilots with major e-commerce companies such as BigBasket, EcomExpress, and Udaan in Delhi NCR for their last-mile delivery requirements.

We will be launching our first electric three-wheeler in Q1 2021. We will target fleet owners and customers in sectors such as e-commerce, pharma, fashion, and retail, FMCG, and other utility segments like dairy, poultry, and gas.

2. What are Euler Motors’ unique selling points in the market?

India is a price-sensitive and ever-evolving customer-driven market, where the adoption of EVs remains at an early stage. In the cargo segment, customers seek vehicles with high-payload capacities, good performance, lower TCO, and the ability to operate against ambient temperatures and road conditions.

Therefore, our vehicles are designed to cater to the Indian mindset that gives a seamless experience that is at par with a vehicle running on an IC engine. We have designed our chassis and battery packs for greater payload capacities. Our vehicles are equipped with battery thermal management systems (BTMS) to ensure the safety, longevity, and functional robustness of EV battery packs. With our advanced battery technology, we are trying to address the issue of range anxiety.

At Euler Motors, we also understand the importance of supportive infrastructure, and therefore, we have built a holistic ecosystem for smooth operations of EVs. We have built a network of 100+ chargers in Delhi-NCR for charging 200+ electric vehicles. We continue to expand this to new locations and plan to increase this number in the coming years.

3. How has 2020 been for your company? What are the key takeaways from this unprecedented year?

The year 2020 was unprecedented in various ways. The plan to launch our vehicle this year was derailed due to COVID. In this year, we raised ₹200 million ($2.7 million) as a part of our ongoing Series A funding. During this time, we focused on incorporating new technologies, such as indigenous software chips, for better fleet and battery management.

As doorstep deliveries became critical during the lockdown, we ensured that the deliveries of our e-commerce clients were made on time. The companies working with us saw a 15-20% growth in business. Our vehicles clocked around two lakhs+ deliveries in Delhi/NCR between March – June 2020 and serviced over one lakh + customers while reducing carbon emissions to the tune of over 200 tonnes.

4. Any upcoming launches that you would like our readers to know about?

We plan to launch our first electric cargo three-wheeler in Q1 2021. With the new vehicles in the market, we plan to expand our customer portfolio and market reach in the country. We are also investing in building a robust supporting infrastructure for our EVs.

5. What are your views on the current shape of last-mile connectivity in India, and how can EVs revolutionize that?

In the past year, intra-city transportation has become crucial as doorstep deliveries have increased manifold. Currently, this market is dominated by ICE vehicles, which may not be a sustainable option in the longer run.

Electric Vehicles are emerging as a preferred choice in this segment. A commercial electric vehicle operates on 1/6th of the running cost of a petrol/ diesel-fuelled vehicle. The lower total cost of ownership and operating costs have made EVs more attractive for the intra-city cargo segment. Moreover, the country is grappling with high air pollution, especially in the big metros and cities. Electric vehicles reduce carbon tailpipe emissions by 13 tons per 100 kilometers. Thus, EVs in the last mile connectivity is a win-win solution for customers as well as the larger society.

However, it is important to have vehicles that are reliable and powerful to give a seamless experience throughout the day. Electric LCVs need to be as efficient as any ICE vehicles in the segment, which can easily carry a similar payload and yet cover more trips and at lesser costs.

6. What is your view on the impact of COVID-19 on EV companies, particularly new and upcoming EV start-ups? What are some of the major impediments for new entrants in this sector right now?

During the initial months of the COVID-19 outbreak, the overall industry, including automotive and EVs, were impacted. It pushed companies to rethink their approach and become more agile and flexible. In the EV segment, the launch of new vehicles was delayed, and disruption in the supply chain of components was reported. However, the pandemic has also realigned focus on the environment and sustainability, with a thrust on EVs.

The new companies planning to enter this space need a long-term vision. The adoption of EVs is at a nascent stage with multiple challenges right now. However, the central and various state governments remain committed to driving EV adoption and support start-ups in this space. Given the massive market opportunity in sectors like two-wheelers and cargo and intracity passenger segment, these are exciting times for electric vehicle companies in India.

7. What are some of the battery innovations in the EV ecosystem today?

High payload-carrying capacity and range requirements are key customers ask from a commercial segment electric vehicle. Apart from this, India’s climate conditions place high pressure on battery life. For example, commercial electric vehicles in a city like Delhi will be exposed to an extreme temperature range between 10- 50 degrees centigrade within one year. It is a known fact that battery life is dependent on optimal and steady ambient temperature both during running and charging. Moreover, the physical design of the vehicle and battery placement must take into account the uneven nature of roads in India.

This calls for unique innovation – and that not just the EV itself but also the battery pack to be designed to suit the Indian conditions. Batteries for domestic and industrial use have made some innovations – but this is just the beginning in the Commercial EV segment in India.

At Euler Motors, the batteries in our vehicles are designed to control the temperature for the battery pack through thermal modeling and liquid cooling. Our goal is to deliver durability with the improved performance of our lithium-ion batteries and prevent its replacements for at least five years. In addition, we also want to ensure safety and rapid ROI that helps customers to use the batteries for the long-term with reduced TCO. We have also included applications that will easily help customers to know the status of their batteries.

Here are the most significant developments that shaped India’s EV landscape.

Ankita Rajeshwari Ankita is an editor at MercomIndia.com where she writes and edits clean energy news stories and features. With years of experience in the news business, Ankita has a nose for news and an eye for detail. Prior to Mercom, Ankita was associated with The Times of India as a copy editor for the organization’s digital news desk. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Delhi University and a Postgraduate Diploma in journalism. More articles from Ankita Rajeshwari.