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Is the ‘WhatsApp Moment’ for EV Startups Here?

By EAI & LetsVenture

Electric vehicles are all the rage, but you will be lucky to see any on the roads!

Except for rickshaws where electric vehicles have a clear penetration especially in select geographies such as Delhi and the National Capital Region, for most other segments, electric vehicles form an insignificant portion of vehicle sales and an even smaller portion of total vehicles on road.

While the challenges for poor adoption are fairly well-known – high cost of vehicles, low range on single battery charge, lack of charging infrastructure – there are no easy solutions. As a result, different stakeholders are exploring different avenues to accelerate EV adoption, with mixed results.

Among stakeholders, startups play an important role. Unhindered by baggage that established companies have, they bring fresh perspectives. With fire in their bellies, they dare to do risky things, fast. This combination of “new and daring” has already shaken up some established industries in India and taken them to the next orbit quickly. Can startups accomplish the same for India’s e-mobility industry too?

Our review and analyses of Indian e-mobility startups in this context have thrown up a mixed picture: On the positive side, Indian e-mobility startups comprise exceptionally talented youngsters and experts with a passion to achieve excellence and make a difference. On the flip side, these startups could do much better in delivering differentiated value to many end-user segments and enhance their e-mobility adoption.

The startups clearly have the requisite intellectual horsepower and skills – prominent startups such as Ather Energy (founded by IIT Madras alumni), Sun Mobility (founded by Chetan Maini, a veteran in India’s e-mobility sector) and Revolt Motors (founded by Rahul Sharma of Mixromax) are testimony to this. They also have significant and growing support from government, industry and investors. What is needed for them to take off and achieve a high cruise-speed is an effective framework they can use to make crucial decisions on target markets and products. Deciding products and markets based on just intuition or past experience alone may not be good enough.

This ‘PitchBook’ prepared by LetsVenture in collaboration with the Energy Alternatives Institute (Chennai), provides a framework that has the potential to drive EV adoption in the short & medium term (2020-2025) even under fairly conservative assumptions for technology enhancement, cost reduction and EV charging/swapping infrastructure development.

We provide examples that show how successful international efforts and case studies, many of these from startups, have a strong alignment with this framework. We also provide a summary of how Indian startups are approaching e-mobility opportunities and highlight some startups with unique value propositions in this section. Finally, we provide recommendations for startups on strategizing for a winning e-mobility transition, right away.

Drop a mail at syna@letsventure.com to download the full report!

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