India’s sole manufacturer of electric vehicles, Mahindra and Mahindra, has forged a partnership with self-drive car rental platform, Zoomcar. As part of the newly-announced alliance, the Bengaluru-based startup will be deploying 20 units of Mahindra’s all-electric smart car, e2oPlus as well as two charging units in Mysuru.

Aimed at promoting sustainable and eco-friendly modes of transport in the city, the initiative will make these electric vehicles available to residents and visitors looking to rent a car. The duo also intends to eventually extend the initiative to other cities in the country, including Hyderabad, Delhi and Chandigarh.

Commenting on the partnership, Mahesh Babu, CEO of Mahindra Electric said at the announcement: “Mahindra Electric has been at the forefront of making electric mobility a reality in India not just through electric vehicles but also technology and mobility solution development.”

“We are happy to be partnering with Zoomcar to promote electric vehicle adoption in India. This initiative is aligned with the Mysore government’s vision of being a clean and green city. We are looking forward to the state developing electric vehicle infrastructure as per the policy to further promote shared electric mobility in the region,” he added.

According to the terms of the deal, Mahindra Electric will also be providing fast-charging services to Zoomcar to ensure seamless customer experience. The two charging units procured by the self-drive car company are currently located at Country Inn and Garuda Mall in Mysuru.

The move, according to Babu, is in line with the central government’s mission to switch to 100% electric vehicles by 2030. This comes at a time when the Karnataka government is looking to develop the city of Mysuru into a robust electric vehicle ecosystem, complete with adequate infrastructure and a support system.

In September this year, Karnataka became the first Indian state to draft a dedicated policy on electric vehicles. The draft policy, which has already received the approval of the government, is geared towards bolstering the state’s EV ecosystem by attracting investments worth $4.83 Bn (INR 31K Cr) and creating around 55,000 employment opportunities.

In a media statement, R.V. Deshpande, Minister for Large and Medium Industries and Infrastructure Development, Government of Karnataka, said at the time, “The development and formation of this path-breaking policy has been a combined effort of the government and key industry players through roundtables organised by Carnegie India and a series of workshops held during the last four to five months. I am sure this policy would be a game-changer in the industry and will be a model for other states.”

Zoomcar CEO Greg Moran On Launching The First Commercial EV In Karnataka

Zoomcar was founded in 2012 by Greg Moran and David Back. David Back, however, left the company in May 2015, after it raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by new and existing investors.

Based in Bengaluru, Zoomcar is a self-drive car rental service that allows you to rent cars by the hour, day, week, or month. It offers a membership-based service that allows individuals to rent vehicles on an hourly or daily basis. In June last year, the startup pivoted to a marketplace model as part of a broader strategy to drive efficiencies in its business. At the time, Zoomcar was reportedly aiming to hit profitability by this year.

Since commencing operations, the startup has raised funding in multiple rounds. In October 2014, Zoomcar raised $ 8 Mn in a funding round from Sequoia Capital and a consortium of angel investors. Later in July 2015, Nokia Growth Partners and existing investors Sequoia Capital and Empire Angels pumped $11 Mn into the self-drive car venture.

A year later, in July 2016, the platform raised another $25 Mn in Series B funding led by Ford Motor Company, Reliance Ventures and existing investors. Most recently in December last year, it picked up an undisclosed amount of funding from China-based Cyber Carrier CL.

As part of the latest partnership with Mahindra Electric, Zoomcar will be procuring the vehicles in a $306K (INR 2 Cr) deal with Mumbai-headquartered rural NBFC, Mahindra Finance.

Sharing his thoughts on the alliance, Zoomcar co-founder and CEO Greg Moran said: “Zoomcar first introduced electric vehicles for commercial use in Karnataka back in 2013, and this announcement today represents a dramatic expansion of our electric vehicle vision for the state. Mysuru has shown exceptional visionary leadership on various forward-looking initiatives such as Public Bicycle Sharing in recent months.”

He added, “The rollout of electric vehicles at scale coupled with best-in-class fast charging infrastructure is an extension of the Mysuru government’s vision for a cleaner, greener India. Zoomcar, the country’s car rental company, is pleased to partner with the Mahindra Electric team once again to help accelerate the transition to an all-electric urban mobility model.”

What Mahindra Has Been Doing In The Electric Vehicles Space

Mahindra’s electric vehicle manufacturing arm came into existence in 2010, when Reva Electric Car Company was acquired and rebranded into Mahindra Electric Mobility Limited. Based in Bengaluru, the company sold 4,000 units of its first EV, REVAi Electric Car, in 26 different countries by March of 2011.

Two years later, Mahindra Electric launched e2o, an electric hatchback which was later upgraded to e2oPlus. Other EVs under the Mahindra brand include the electric sedan eVerito and the electric commercial vehicle for passengers and cargo, eSupro.

As per a report by the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles, there has been a 37.5% increase in the sale of EVs in India in recent years. The market for electric vehicles has soared in recent times, largely due to the government’s efforts to turn to all-electric cars by 2030. The newly-forged partnership between Mahindra Electric and Zoomcar aims to leverage the growing demand for eco-friendly electric vehicles to strengthen their own businesses.

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