Chennai: In a time when impacts of climate change keeps making headlines, auto industries have made efforts to reduce their carbon footprints by exploring alternative options.
As a result, several startups have entered the electric vehicle (EV) sector in a bid to monetize this arena. Yet, there are numerous obstacles as the infrastructure needed for citizens to adapt using EVs is still nascent in India.
Co-founder and CEO of eBikeGo, Irfan Khan agrees. ‘Many start ups in the EV sector entered with B2C and they have had challenges with that model in terms of customers not embracing electric bikes. eBikeGo’s model however is B2B,’ he says. ‘Businesses require these vehicles as they are not just environmentally friendly but they are also cost effective.’
The Amritsar-based startup is an electric two-wheeler rental platform. It recently raised $3,00,000 as part of its recent funding round led by ‘Startup Buddy’. eBikeGo is directly connected with delivery services like Zomato, Delhivery, Big Basket and provides last mile delivery eco-system.
The startup recently entered an agreement with Bengaluru-based motorcycle taxi firm Rapido to electrify 10 per cent of their upcoming fleet of petrol vehicles within a year. In a conversation with News Today, Irfan spoke about the need to use EVs and the startup’s future plans.
Excerpts from the interview:
1) What can the government do to promote usage of electric vehicles?
A) Niti Aayog has proposed that companies need to transform their fleet from petrol to EV before 2025. A good way for the government to encourage this further would be to encourage government employees to use electric bikes for their transportation purposes. This can be done by offering special loans for electric vehicles.
Besides this as we have seen with the government’s Ujala scheme – creating awareness about energy efficiency in the right way can bring about a truly nation wide transformation and we hope that people all across India will be open to being made aware of the many benefits of energy efficiency with electric vehicles to the environment and the economy.
2) Has the government taken steps to provide ease of business in EV sector? And has the economic slowdown it?
A) Yes, they have taken steps to help start ups in the EV sector by reducing tax rates on electric vehicles and electric chargers to 5 per cent. Even in a slowdown there can be some benefits. There are always negative and positive aspects. In a slowdown people may not be able to afford petrol and therefore using an e bike becomes more cost effective also.
3) One major obstacle EVs face is lack of charging stations. How has eBikeGo worked on this? Can you also tell us why renting EVs is good?
A) Since we have a B2B model all our charging stations are at business hubs. For example, we have charging points at Big Basket warehouses where the delivery professionals can charge as and when they come back or are heading out for deliveries.
The whole eco-system around the world is moving to towards renting. That is because the young generation would prefer not to have the responsibility that comes with ownership. Also from eBikeGo’s perspective we remove many of the obstacles that come with buying a bike and also provide end-to-end assistance in terms of roadside assistance, maintenance etc.
4) What are your future plans?
A) eBikeGo has grown from 640 users in 2017 to 18,000 users in 2019 and estimates a million users by 2020. By 2020, eBikeGo hopes to increase tie ups to 69 companies deploying 30,000 EVs in the market. We hope to extend our services to neighbouring countries that are also battling pollution. eBikeGo’s vision is to become the biggest most trusted E-scooter rental service provider of India by 2023.