Electric mobility is catching up, and manufacturers are addressing range anxiety in innovative ways. One method is to have multiple charging stations, while another way is to have swappable batteries. Interchangeable batteries are a quicker and easier alternative to charging, as users don’t have to wait while the vehicle charges. Many EV makers offer this solution, including Yulu.
In recent times, Yulu has become popular with last-mile delivery agencies. The Yulu Miracle and Dex are the most sought after, as the Miracle and Dex offers a range of ~60km, while the Dex is capable of carrying a heavier load. Now, with the ability of swappable batteries, the Yulu products have become even more popular.
Yulu is in the process of setting up charging infrastructure across Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai. Recently, Yulu opened its first batch of 10 charging stations in Bangalore, named ‘Yulu Max Network’. Yulu claims that “The Max Network will help users swap their batteries with zero downtime and reduce the range anxiety of EV users. This will be India’s first AI-powered, vertically integrated battery infrastructure for electric two-wheelers.”
To understand the business module better, we spoke to Naveen Dachuri, the Co-founder and CTO at Yulu, at the inauguration event. He said, “We are in the space of shared mobility, not personal mobility. When you are looking at EVs in the shared mobility space, the batteries need to be swappable. This helps save on logistic costs associated with taking the vehicle to a charging station and real estate costs. When considering these two points, swappable batteries are better when it involves shared mobility.”
He added, “When Yulu started, our focus was on creating a mobility platform for people to move short distances. When the pandemic struck last year, we noticed people ordering things online; they were forced to do it since nobody could step out. This was not only in Tier 1 cities but also in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. To keep up with demand, delivery companies had to hire delivery agents. However, almost 85% could not land their jobs because they did not have a driver’s licence. That is what we focused on.”
The Yulu’s catered to this segment well. They had a low top speed, good range, and they did not require a licence. Naveen added, “Month-on-month, we had a surge in demand for these vehicles. That translated to the need for more batteries since delivery personnel were using it for almost 12 hours a day, at times, even longer.” This left many Yulu vehicles without charge, creating a bad user experience. “This made us think about the battery swapping infrastructure,” he added.
Yulu went ahead to create Yulu Max Network, like petrol stations. The intent was to navigate the Yulu users to go to these stations and swap the battery. “This will help us grow the network exponentially,” said Naveen. Speaking about how the business transitioned from bicycles to shared electric mobility, Naveen said, “We always wanted EVs. When we entered this market the biggest challenge was the lack of infrastructure, policies, and people had not experienced this kind of service. We wanted to understand how people move, and without that, we could not have expensive assets on the road. We could have opted for inexpensive petrol vehicles, but we wanted to create sustainable, green mobility.”
To do so, Yulu is aiming at 500 Max stations across Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi by mid-2022. These stations will be located in areas with a high density of movement, offering practical EV mobility solutions. Yulu is looking to scale up to 2000 such stations by the end of 2022. The company will open 30 more of these stations by the end of this month in Bangalore, and 100 in the next three months. These new Yulu Max stations will have the capacity to swap 25,000 batteries per day.
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