First & Last Mile Mobility Conclave: Well-made products and competition will drive availability of finance in the E3W space

At the last session of the First & Last Mile Mobility Conclave 2022, an interesting panel discussion took place bringing together – Mr Amitabh Saran, Founder & CEO, Altigreen Propulsion; Mr Saurav Kumar, Founder & CEO, Euler Motors; Mr Uday Narang; Founder & Chairman, Omega Seiki Mobility and Mr Uttam Digga, Co-Founder, Porter. The session was Moderated by Mr Nilesh Wadhwa, Principal Correspondent, The Financial Express. 

It is no doubt that the Indian electric vehicle segment is hugely benefitting from the thrust of Central and State government subsidies. But beyond that, the initial cost of acquisition is also something that could be a deterrent. The domestic sales of electric three-wheelers for the first time surpassed its IC-counterpart, but is this a sign of the days to come? Or a temporary phenomenon? 

The First & Last Mile Mobility Conclave 2022 hosted by The Financial Express, dwelled into a range of discussion point right from – ‘Making India Atmanirbhar In EV Manufacturing’; ‘Road ahead: Beyond FAME-II and state incentives’; ‘Challenges and opportunities in EV ecosystem’; ‘Road to climate conscious delivery’; ‘Can India achieve its EV Vision 2030?’ and ‘Emerging business models in the EV ecosystem.’

At the last session of the First & Last Mile Mobility Conclave 2022, an interesting panel discussion took place bringing together – Mr Amitabh Saran, Founder & CEO, Altigreen Propulsion; Mr Saurav Kumar, Founder & CEO, Euler Motors; Mr Uday Narang; Founder & Chairman, Omega Seiki Mobility and Mr Uttam Digga, Co-Founder, Porter. The session was Moderated by Mr Nilesh Wadhwa, Principal Correspondent, The Financial Express. 

“What we have seen recently and is a general trendline. People have become more and more curious about EVs in general. We still feel that the penetration of EVs in our platform is not as high as we want it to be. Because there are different reasons for it, for instance how much kilometres the partner has to drive in a day, the tonnage will be carried is far higher. But as being the market leader in our industry, we have responsibility to push it.” Digga said.

He mentioned at present there are around 1,500 e-three-wheelers on Porter’s platform plying primarily in Delhi and some in Mumbai and Bangalore. The idea is to scale this up significantly across the country.

“Financing remains a key challenge. We have demand for over 40,000-50,000 e-three-wheelers. In fact, everyone has demand. The problem is financing. Without purchasing power will cost demand. We as a group have to make sure that more is done on financing,” remarked Narang. It is interesting to note in October 2021, Anglian Omega Group, the parent company of Omega Seiki Mobility had launched its EV financing arm Anglian Finvest. 

“I believe that investing in IC-engine is a mistake. Financing should be here (EV space),” quipped Narang. 

It was in October 2021, that Euler Motors’ launched its electric three-wheeler offering in the Indian market. Kumar said, “We started in 2018. We focussed on building a cargo e-three-wheeler, and in fact, there was virtually no financing available for the electric three-wheeler segment. We went ahead and deployed around 300 e3Ws of our own to partly understand what to build, what not to build, what will work and what will not in India. We launched the product after 4-years and by then thanks to bigger OEMs and better products in the market the overall take of the ecosystem especially for financing of electric three-wheeler has also been improved. It went from almost no one looking to finance an electric three-wheeler today we work with almost 25 financers. I think the situation has vastly improved. There is much more interest, and the ecosystem has come a long way. There is a greater confidence on the products that are coming out.” 

“If you have a performing product compared to diesel and CNG vehicles. The transition will happen, it is mainly because the customer gets a better comfortable vehicle, the financer has comfort, that the guy will run the vehicle and their chances of them defaulting will be low,” shared Kumar.

Altigreen which begin its journey with developing individual parts for the electric vehicle industry way back in 2014 has now launched its own electric three-wheeler product. In fact, the company in February this year raised Rs 300 crore funding led by Sixth Sense Ventures and Reliance Energy among others.

Responding to a query on whether the company sees potential of retrofitment as a cheaper alternative in the e-three-wheeler market, Dr Saran replied, “When we started, we were proponents of retrofitment. But over a period of time, we realised that there is no subsidy from the government for retrofitment. When you look at the bulk of the vehicle, it is the drivetrain and other components including the battery get added to that. You do not get any subsidy on that, as a result the price of retrofit is very high.”

He said for a potential retrofitment customer in the three-wheeler space, it is difficult to convince a person to invest 60-70 percent of the price of a new vehicle in their old vehicle. “You still get an old vehicle like it used to be, unless you are doing a lot of refurbishment. However, I believe for certain segments retrofit will be a good idea. Whether it is as full-electric or a series or parallel hybrid. There will be certain segments, especially with the CAFÉ norms come next year that some manufacturers will be forced to adopt it.”

To view the whole conversation, tune in to First & Last Mile Mobility Conclave 2022. 

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