Hyderabad: Bengaluru-based Lithium Urban Technologies, which launched its operations in 2014, with just 10 cabs has today over 400 cabs crisscrossing the roads of Bengaluru and Delhi. Each of these vehicles traverse 200 to 300 kilometers per day, which means close to 1,00,000 kilometers of transport that is hydrocarbon emission free, non-renewable fuel free and pollution free. The company has recently forayed into Hyderabad as the city is looking for new urban transport solutions. The company caters to corporates and is keen to continue targeting the B2B market.
Praveen Salins, Operations head, Lithium Urban Technologies, told Telangana Today, “Electric vehicles are seen as the future of urban mobility, and Lithium identified this opportunity in the transportation sector, with an aim of not only bringing in electric cars into this sector, but also reducing the pollution levels in the atmosphere. Keeping this in mind, Lithium has initially served Bengaluru and New Delhi to aid in the reduction of pollution levels. We have launched our operations in Hyderabad last month and will be foraying into Pune, Chennai and Manipal shortly. Pune could be the next city after Hyderabad, and operations in other cities will be rolled out every three months.”
On the cost perspective, he says, though the capital cost is high with the electric vehicles while buying them, operational and maintenance costs are low. In the case of conventional fuel based vehicles, drivers have to work hard, but in the case of electric vehicles, the vehicles have to be run more to bring in operational savings. Most of the corporates are going renewable way, so adoption of electric vehicles is becoming easy.
Asked if creating charging infrastructure for the electric vehicles is a challenge, he explains, “Catering to the corporates in the B2B format, we can plan the trips and routes. We have a planned operation based on the roster given by the companies. We have put charging infrastructure at client’s place.
Lithium was co-founded by Sanjay Krishnan and an ex-NASA scientist Ashwin Mahesh. Chetan Maini has also joined in as a board member. The company’s angel investors include Robin Chase, Narayan Ramachandran, KPIT Technologies promoters’ group, Kewal Nohria, Cognizant’s Lakshmi Narayanan, H V Prasad Subramaniam and Subrata Ghosh. The company has been providing comfortable and safe transportation to the employees of about 15 large corporates, mostly MNCs, in Bengaluru and New Delhi.
“We have raised our fleet size to 500 now Pan-India and will grow to 1,500 by the next 12 months, while also helping more than 3,000 employees reach their organisations on time. Bengaluru has 400 cars while Delhi has close to 100. Around 1,000 drivers are working on a full time basis with us and we will be adding another 1,000. We depend on our in-house fleet management technology, which minimises the chances of error. We have got four-door vehicles now, while we initially operated with two-door vehicles. Our vehicles are fitted with telematics giving insights on 200 parameters. We are also using algorithm to study various functional aspects. We are on the verge of signing more contracts with more companies,” he informed.
Companies such as Wipro, Adobe and Google are some of the major clients for the company. Not just IT and BPO companies, firms from across sectors are adopting including pharmaceuticals. The company gives trained drivers to the companies along with efficient vehicles. It has also offered defence training to drivers with the help of an Austrian company. Lithium also offers data-driven compliance systems for corporates that give insights on traffic data.
On the battery availability, he said, “We are procuring vehicles from Mahindra. Our OEM has been supportive on the serviceability and most of our cars had crossed three years of usage. We were the first to do testing of electric vehicles. We have crossed 25 million kilometers through our fleet. We will be touching 100 million in a year’s time, when we would be in six cities. We could also raise funds very shortly as we are in talks with investors, to meet our expansion needs.”
Praveen Salins said, in future, “We will remain EV-based. We will not venture into hybrid models. We are looking at logistics and other avenues. We are in talks with e-commerce companies for possible partnerships. With more options of other electric vehicles to be available in the coming years, we will see other opportunities. Companies such as Mahindra and Tata are working on new models, which we could use. We are also in talks with Nissan and tested their vehicles. We can more and longer trips with the EVs.”
The company provides driver insurance and girl-child education to make drivers inclusive of their growth.