Shared Electric Mobility Will Move the Future of India
Mahesh Babu
Read more to know about the future of Electric Vehicles in the country as captured by the CEO of the pioneers in EV technology in India, Mahesh Babu.

This article, originally written by Mahesh Babu, CEO of Mahindra Electric, was published in Silicon India Magazine in the November issue (page 8):

In the last decade or so, India has moved at an astonishing pace: towards quicker economic growth, rapid urbanisation, larger population, better technology, etc. We moved from landlines to wireless, to mobile phones, to a time where every person carries a communication device on them… all in less than 10 years! The mobility sector is no stranger to this movement.

Supporting one of the largest populations, fastest growing economies and approximately only 25/1000 penetration of vehicles in India, our mobility industry is unique in itself. Given the circumstances in India, the mobility sector has had to innovate, grow and reimagine things constantly, be it sharing or going sustainable.

Who can forget Bollywood capturing rural India migrating to urban pastures, sitting atop a train? The Indian geography has been actively sharing commutes, even at a time when no one else considered it. We have the likes of shared tempos, three-wheelers, tractors being extended as a mobility solution and basic electric two-wheelers being put together in rural workshops.

Such is the focus of community sharing even in intra-city commutes in India. When the world is moving to shared mobility systems only now, it is interesting to know that India, even as a late adopter by modern definitions, is predicted to have 35% of all the miles travelled classified as shared (Morgan and Stanley estimate).

In cities, when the planned development for mobility moved towards building metros, it was amazing to see the quick identification of opportunity and requirement for last mile connectivity which resulted in basic motor and battery combination vehicles cropping up on the roads. These locally made electric three-wheelers addressed requirements which weren’t planned for earlier. Sure, these contraptions might break down frequently and have no standardization from piece to piece, but they keep the economy of our cities moving. What’s worth appreciating is the innovation that went behind it – simple and inexpensive. This is what keeps India moving.

And today, the situation is again in flux. We have growing cities, which are putting constant pressures on our resources of land and environments. A quick glance at the numbers highlight that between 2014 and 2050, close to 400 million Indians will be urbanized (World Bank Projections). As early as 2030, we will have at least 7 megacities with a population of 10 million plus, and almost 50 cities each with a population over 1 million.

These concentrated masses of people need us to rethink mobility in a manner which addresses not just congestion but also pollution. While India races to the future with mass rapid transportation systems, advanced connectivity and vehicle sharing models; it needs to find ways to make mobility sustainable. I have always believed that the most sustainable way to travel is to walk, but massive distances sometimes make it unreasonable. The next best alternative, hence, is to use shared electric mobility – reducing the carbon footprint for all passengers. The need for electric mass mobility and sustainable last mile connectivity stems from here.

This segment has the potential to become more organized and be greener and more sustainable, and there are several models that can support this. An interesting sustainable mobility application in the city is in the space of shared employee commute and fleet applications of EVs.

In fact, owing to my association with Mahindra Electric, I have had the opportunity to study these segments and the adoption possibilities thereof, on a personal level. Sustainable mobility in fleet applications not just encourages greener living, but also makes economic sense. Working with these setups, we have had multiple business learnings like – the fastest way to breakeven is by ensuring that EVs are always running. And an efficient way to run the operations is by installing fast-charging infrastructure at key locations, using software support systems to draw on the enhanced connectivity capabilities of EVs resulting into maximum value in terms of output from asset, and EV batteries can last almost up to 2 lakh kms for an individual vehicle without requiring major overhaul. These and many similar learnings have brought me to believe that the way for India to adopt sustainable mobility is through mass and shared applications of electric vehicles.

I believe that today, India is standing at a tipping point. We have a past which boasts of the widest range of vehicles – two wheelers, three wheelers, cars, LCVs, HCVs etc., powering mobility for the economy. And now we are building a new future with a mobility ecosystem which is sustainable, green, connected, shared and yet serving the unique Indian requirements. As a nation, we are going to integrate everything and present one of the largest EV ecosystem models across economies. The world is looking up to us!

And it is people like you and me who will create this future. My colleagues, my peers in the industry and the government, my friends and family who are a part of this ecosystem as consumers; it is us who will collectively make this happen. A greener future is in our hands!
Mahesh Babu
CEO, Mahindra Electric
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