Ekart, the delivery arm of the Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart, has announced that it will replace nearly 40% of its delivery fleet with electric vehicles (EVs) by March 2020.
In the first phase, around 160 EVs would be deployed across the country by the end of 2019. With the clean energy push, Flipkart will become the first e-commerce platform in India to use EVs on a mass scale. Currently, it is using EVs in Hyderabad, New Delhi and electric bikes in Bengaluru. These efforts will also help Flipkart to more than halve its carbon emissions, the company claimed.
“The objective is to be hundred percent EV. 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.”Amitesh Jha, senior vice president, E-kart and Marketplace, Flipkart
The move comes at a time when parent Walmart is focusing on using drones for customer deliveries and strengthening supply chain. Since July, Walmart has filed 97 new drone patents with the World Intellectual Property Organization, according to management accounting firm BDO. In addition to environmental benefits, experts say the focus on EVs makes business sense.
Flipkart plans to work closely with various electric vehicle makers to procure vehicles suitable for e-commerce deliveries. In the previous six months, Flipkart has succeeded in multiple pilots with electric vehicles. Flipkart 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. 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.”Kalyan Krishnamurthy, group CEO of Flipkart
Grocery retailer BigBasket uses electric vehicles for deliveries in Hyderabad and Delhi NCR, and solar power in seven warehouses across Bengaluru, Gurugram and Chennai. Food delivery platform Swiggy delivers more than 1.5 million deliveries a month on cycles. With the government’s aggressive push for EVs to bring down oil imports and curb pollution. Since India is the home to 7 out of 10 most polluted cities in the world, this move makes more sense than ever.