M&M-backed Meru Cabs to add electric vehicles for fleet expansion – Livemint

MUMBAI: Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (M&M)-backed Meru Cabs plans to focus on inducting electric vehicles in its fleet in the mid-term. The ride hailing firm is already running a pilot fleet of 200 electric vehicles, all Mahindra e-Verito cars, in Mumbai and Delhi to gauge the sustainability of the battery-powered four-wheelers in fleet applications, Neeraj Gupta, founder of the ride hailing company, told Mint.

“With M&M coming on board, we would like to differentiate Meru with electric cars in its fleet. We will go all out and become an EV fleet in the future,” Gupta told Mint in a phone interview.

Although electric cars are yet to see adoption in the personal segment, the battery-powered vehicles continue to gain traction in fleet applications. Operators such as Lithium Urban Technologies Pvt Ltd, Prakriti E-Mobility Pvt Ltd and Gensol Mobility Pvt Ltd have deployed electric cars in their fleet.

M&M, which agreed to acquire 55% stake in Meru Cabs last year, is strategically looking at the opportunities in the shared mobility space. In December, the company created a separate shared mobility services vertical to be headed by VS Parthasarathy, erstwhile chief financial officer of the group.

The shared mobility services business unit was created after merging the aftermarket, logistics and auto mobility businesses. Investments in Meru Cabs come under M&M’s auto mobility business.

“Shared mobility is a commoditized business. It will eventually get segmented into various niches depending upon applications such as airport transfers, outstation trips, and last mile, among others. We will focus on a few niche spaces and will strive to become the best at it,” Gupta said, adding that the company is looking to build and expand presence in the office commute space in the future.

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With focus on office commuters, Meru plans to address the mundane challenges such as unavailability of cabs and surge pricing in peak hours, while offering cabs at subscription models.

He plans to scale up the number of electric cars from 200 to a few thousands in the mid-term but said that to further scale up, the company would aggregate the cabs.

“We plan to scale up to a few thousand EVs in the future. However, owning more than 5,000-10,000 cars would become unmanageable and turn into an asset heavy business model,” he said, adding that the company is looking at aggregating cabs in the future once the pilot proves viable.

Gupta said the company would look at maintaining a ratio of 1:4 with cab aggregated on the platform comprising the bulk fleet.

Meru is also looking at setting up its own charging stations and is currently looking out for a partner. The EV charging stations would be set up at the point of origin and end such as the airports and select pockets in the cities, Gupta said.

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