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EMobility+ had an exciting conversation with Amit Gupta, Co-Founder, Yulu, and understood the Covid impact on the company’s business, the number of Yulu vehicles currently on-road, and the technology behind the same. We also got his views on how smart mobility is likely to grow in the future.
- How has Covid impacted Yulu’s business and what have been some major changes that it brought about?
Yulu enjoys a first mover advantage as the only e-shared mobility solution in India. The pandemic has led to an increased dependency on the home delivery of essential services. With the ongoing crisis, home delivery options are playing a pivotal role in areas like healthcare, food, grocery and logistics service delivery. Before Covid-19 arrived in India, 80% of our users were white-collar workers who used the service for first- and last-mile connectivity while 20% were used for leisure. In the last year, we’ve seen new user demography that includes students, local shop owners, women and gig workers. This phenomenon has led to a boom in the online-to-offline economy and there has been a tremendous increase in the number of gig workers. These gig workers do not have a driving license and very rarely do they have the luxury of owning vehicles. Our aim is to empower them by providing affordable lease options by launching Yulu DEX, the custom-designed Electric 2-Wheeler for “short mile” delivery of food, groceries, and medicines.
Yulu DEX is a high-quality purpose-built electric vehicle that serves as an affordable and safe electric vehicle. It is specifically designed to reduce the fatigue of the gig workers with a smooth-riding experience as we have added a goods carrier and a mobile holder. Using Yulu DEX is expected to reduce the operating costs of delivery executives by almost 35-40%, increasing their earning potential. As an electric vehicle, Yulu DEX also contributes to our ESG goals. Along with Yulu DEX, we have “Yulu Miracle” which is a custom-made, battery operated, 2 wheeler designed specifically for urban traffic conditions, for hassle-free shared mobility and goods delivery with zero carbon footprint. In the second wave, Yulu saw little to no change in its revenue as we adapted and changed accordingly in the first wave.
2. What has been the thought process behind Yulu’s three guiding principles of urban mobility – Accessibility, Availability, and Affordability?
Yulu was started in 2018, with the mission to make urban mobility smart, safe, short, shareable, and sustainable. We saw that Indian urban infrastructure was under threat due to rising consciousness of air quality, road congestion, and sustainable practices. Our journey started with pedal-driven bicycles, feasible for short distances. That is where the idea of launching electric bikes came into the picture. The biggest challenge faced by EV UMaaS providers like us in India is the lack of adequate infrastructure i.e., the charging infrastructure and battery-swapping stations which has hindered the potential growth of EVs in the country. We had to make a lot of customizations as a solution set. For instance, there were no suitable vehicles, battery packs, or infrastructure. We developed solutions that addressed these requirements, sometimes with the help of partners in India. We created a whole network of vehicles, batteries, and charging stations. We are also contributing positively to policymaking. The other challenge was the lack of consumer awareness-, shared mobility was still popular in countries like the USA, UK, and Europe. It is tough for an Indian customer to let go of vehicles driven by traditional forms of easily accessible power. We addressed their questions and concerns by creating a driven focus launch campaign to make people aware of the usage and sustainability factors of EV.
3. What is the technology behind Yulu?
Yulu is revolutionizing the way people commute through its purpose-built battery-powered vehicles and cutting-edge technologies like IoT, ML & AI. Yulu’s biggest USP is its operational model built on excellence and efficiency. Yulu has developed a “vertical stack” to run its EV fleet. From design and ownership of the assets to charging the batteries and on-ground operations, we have little dependency on external factors. Secondly, our model is based on technology integration to deliver a seamless customer experience using IoT, Machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence. This also proved extremely beneficial during the pandemic, where the customers could monitor sanitization stamps for reassurance of safety.
4. How many Yulu bikes do you have on the road currently and what are you aiming for in the coming year?
We have a fleet of more than 10,000 electric two-wheelers and plan to increase it to 50,000 by the middle of next year. We are currently operational in Bangalore, New Delhi, and Mumbai.
5. What is your view on the smart mobility industry in India? How do you see it growing further?
There are several factors boosting the growth of smart mobility in India such as familiarity with shared services, improving digital infrastructure, a young demographic, and the vibrant entrepreneurial culture. Yulu bikes have expanded significantly in the smart mobility space from moving people to now moving goods in the last mile.
Smart Mobility can also be defined as Mobility 2.0 which is giving rise to the new “anti-car sentiment” perspective and the customer preferences are gradually shifting towards eco-friendly, sustainable, and affordable means of transportation. The demand for self-driven vehicles is also on the rise. The country is remodeling its cities with a smart setup to incorporate the demands of the future, such as green spaces, pathways, and cycle lanes. All these factors indicate that India has embarked on a successful journey towards smart mobility and will witness monumental developments in this space in the coming years.
6. What is the best piece of advice that you would want to give young budding EV entrepreneurs?
India has the best potential to emerge as a global leader in e- mobility. The EV entrepreneurs have several factors to offer with the increasing familiarity with shared services, improving digital infrastructure, a young demographic, and vibrant entrepreneurial culture, to support and become India’s leading e- mobility unicorn.
Emerging e-mobility entrepreneurs can offer several potential benefits, arising from an increase in system efficiency through higher asset utilization and better connectivity. Being an entrepreneur is an exciting and responsible decision to make as you are responsible for driving growth, managing people, handling crises, and your teams expect you to always be the rallying point. But being an EV entrepreneur adds up little value and gives scope and one should be capable enough of business depth and be a great team leader. After all, a company grows when its people grow.