Reversing trends – Using last mile to transform Electric Vehicles (EVs) adoption in India

The Indian government announced back in October 2021 their plan to shift all public and logistics transport to 100% clean and green sources of energy. The National Hydrogen Mission was also launched around the same time by the Prime Minister to develop hydrogen technologies for the benefit of the mobility sector and make India the leader in the production and usage of green hydrogen. The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said that Green Hydrogen is the fuel of the future which can help us achieve the mission of ‘Zero Carbon Emissions’. Last year also saw the introduction of the Prime Minister Gati Shakti National Masterplan, under which various initiatives were launched/chalked out in a bid to enhance the logistics ecosystem of the country with the bigger aim of making India a global transshipment hub and a USD 5 trillion economy. There was special attention given to the ways to get India in sync with the Paris Agreement goals of sustainability.

A lot has changed since then, and undoubtedly for the better. India has been rapidly building infrastructure to promote EVs as the new means of transport, in line with India’s pledge to reduce 40% of its fossil fuel consumption by 2030. One EV reduces upto 6 tonnes of CO2 emission per year. And, that includes electrifying India’s USD 160 billion logistics sector. 

Recently, when the oil prices skyrocketed off the charts, India was presented with the golden opportunity of switching to alternative energy sources, electricity being one of them. When coupled with the already surging last mile delivery demand (a byproduct of the pandemic) sourced back to e-commerce, there was a major shift on part of e-commerce and logistics companies towards electric vehicles (EVs).

The shift towards EVs has been backed up constantly by last mile mobility service providers like Magenta, Altigreen, Turtle Mobility, BattWheelz, Zyngo, Zypp Electric among others, and those manufacturing EVs like Hero Electric, Mahindra Electric, Euler Motors, Tata Motors, etc.

Businesses, especially those in e-commerce, have realised the importance of sustainable operations and to mark their share towards using cleaner mobility solutions are now in the process of making, at least, their last mile fleet completely electric in the upcoming years. Not only will it reduce a huge part of the commercial carbon emissions, but it is also considerably reduces the total cost of ownership and increases profitability. This has led to the Indian logistics sector adopting EVs for last mile faster than ever, including the large OEMs. There are already a lot of electric 2 wheelers in the market for quick delivery as a result of the recent 10 min grocery and food delivery hype.

According to a Zypp blog, most modern-day EVs are equipped with the ability to store data, which in return helps in better delivery logistics, thus, boosting delivery logistics. With zero carbon emissions and silent transmission, EVs are the perfect urban delivery vehicle. Irrespective of the scale, in order to maintain sustainability, every company must start adopting EVs in their delivery fleet.

All said and done, last mile delivery is not confined to hyper-local deliveries. We need to also focus on electrifying the fleet of three and four wheelers, medium as well as large vehicles used in the logistics sector. There isn’t a dearth of such vehicles, just a shortage of initiative for application. In a growing economy, electrification of urban freight transport becomes increasingly important in order to suit various sorts of demand, in a cost effective way.

There is also a need to commoditise the parts of EV inclusion like charging stations and swappable battery packs. We do have companies working on swappable models, batteries with longer life because of which asset monthly cost can be brought down since the operating cost is already low with these new models.

To further the EV inclusion in logistics, related infrastructure such as charging stations, and ancillary services like battery manufacturing – which will require specialised technical skills, focused training on new-age technologies including artificial intelligence, data analytics and design & development of applications – also deserve the attention of market players and aggregators.

Along with the physical aspect of it, the apprehensions that come with EV adoption can be another bump in the road. To tackle this, market players and aggregators should come out to support the adoption in order to bring down the fear mainly within the driver committee.

Collectively, all this will eventually lead to a larger adoption of EV in the logistics sector.

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