Swiggy, one of India’s biggest food-tech startups, recently announced that it will be initiating a pilot for using electric vehicles in 10 Indian cities. This is part of their move towards using green alternatives to battle internal combustion engines used heavily by delivery partners currently.
The unicorn has also begun rolling out a green initiative where partners were assigned bicycles to carry out deliveries. This is but the latest step in the green wave that seems to be sweeping India.
A Conducive Environment For A Green Revolution
Focus on EVs has been increasing in the eyes of Indian regulators, who have begun to institute the necessary infrastructure. The government aims to push EVs as a green alternative by making it easier to do so, and have even issued a set of guidelines regarding the matter.
In May last year, the government clarified the position of EVs among other vehicles on the road, and stated that they would be differentiated by a green license board.
The green license board was to ensure the identification of EVs at a distance. EVs are said to be given preferential treatment in terms of parking, free entry in congested areas and concessional tolls. The move was made as a part of trying to increase the adoption of EVs among the population.
More recently, the Government issued guidelines in the form of amendments to model building bye-laws and Urban Regional Development Plans Formulation and Implementation Guidelines in order to make room for the infrastructure required for EVs.
The government specified under the new guidelines that there was a need for charging stations for EVs to be setup across the country, with the move looking to reduce the number of ICVs and increase EV usage to 25% of transportation.
Under these amendments, public charging stations will be set up on at every 25 kms, with fast charging stations for buses and trucks at every 100 kms. The country also aims to achieve ‘full electric mobility’ by the year 2030 in order to curb the rise of fossil fuel-powered cars.
Startups Ride The Wave
The Green Wave began with startups looking to capitalise on what was looking to be a quickly emerging vertical. Mahindra was already an established player in the space owing to their production of the E2O electric car. This product carried on the philosophy of Reva, which was acquired by Mahindra in 2010.
However, the market still has place for a lot of other players, such as Mobycy, an electric scooter and e-bike sharing service, e-Hiran, an electric cycle company, Yulu and PEDL, which both operate in similar markets of lending bicycles and electric scooters. These startups began popping up left right and centre, leading to wide adoption by individuals all around the country in the face of rising traffic and pollution levels.
Other companies also began jumping on the bandwagon, with cab taxi aggregator Ola also detailing its plans with a dedicated business only for EVs. This division, dubbed Ola Electric Mobility, has already set up various infrastructure such as charging stations and OEMs for batteries and parts.
Lastly, Swiggy’s main rival, Zomato has also entered the EV fray with goals to deploy electric bikes in 12 cities in conjunction with many EV startups. With over 5000 cyclists on their payroll, Zomato is already beginning to see the benefits.
Swiggy’s Green Masterstroke
Swiggy has been in the green zone ever since it introduced bicycles to its fleet over 2 years ago, it had yet to enter the EV space. Now, with this pilot, Swiggy aims to not only be more sustainable, but also provide a better bottomline for their delivery partners.
With the move being carried out in 10 cities, Swiggy said that it was possible for delivery partners to reduce their running cost by up to 40%, leading to a better payouts for the partners. The cost of purchase will be borne by the partners, who will eventually see better earnings owing to their use of EVs.
In Delhi and Lucknow, Swiggy has already deployed e-rickshaws to undertake deliveries. Reportedly, the company is fulfilling over 1.5 million orders every month on mechanical cycles alone, with the majority of them being in Bengaluru.
The cyclist fleet is spread over 54 cities, and consists of 10,000 partners. The move also allowed partners to deliver meals faster than bikes or scooters in some cities. Srivats TS, the VP of Marketing for Swiggy, said in a statement,
“With the future heading towards more eco-friendly modes of transport, cycle and EV logistics will be the next game changer in food-tech and Swiggy wants to be at the forefront of driving that change.”