Ola bats for incentivising shared mobility

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 23 Apr 2019

Ola Mobility Institute (OMI) is a policy research and social innovation think-tank, part of the homegrown shared mobility and cab aggregator Ola today released a report titled ‘Beyond Nagpur: The Promise of Electric Mobility’, which shares insights and observations from the country's first multi-modal e-mobility pilot project that was started in May 2017.

The study drawn from more than 5 million kilometres driven by Ola’s fleet of electric vehicles on various parameters including vehicle performance, customer behaviour, environmental conditions and renewable energy integration among others. The study primarily focused on experimenting with various scenarios that would test the viability of EVs on economic metrics. One such essential metric, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), includes the direct and indirect costs of purchasing, running and maintaining a commercial vehicle over its typical lifetime of four years, making it a key driver to proliferate EVs on Indian roads towards realising e-mobility ambition as a nation.

The report's key findings include —

Early success in e-mobility should leverage shared mobility: Due to the low operating cost of an EV, high-mileage commercial owners are natural early adopters, given the economic incentive over the on-road life of internal combustion alternatives.

Two- and three-wheeler segments will enable unique deployment models: The study says with small vehicles dominating Indian roads, any attempt at electrification of the country’s vehicle fleet must address the two and three-wheeler segments. Additionally, the report suggests that TCO parity for four-wheelers is still years away, and hence other segments should be prioritised for electrification.

Shared, public and commercial transport deliver a disproportionate share of vehicle kilometres travelled: The study found that the highest proportions of passenger-kilometres travelled are by public and shared vehicles. Additionally, the largest fleets in the country are maintained by government agencies, civic bodies and app-based aggregators. Hence, shared, public and commercial transport electric vehicles are better poised to bring down the TCO as opposed to an EV being used as a personal vehicle.

Incentivising usage more than the purchase of vehicles: Ola says the government’s push for gaining more clean kilometres can be achieved only when we look beyond incentivising just the purchase cost of EVs. Usage-based incentives on EVs will accelerate innovation, encourage early adopters, enable new business models, and promote low-cost shared mobility services.

The study further identifies specific measures to encourage the adoption of EVs, based on significant learning's from hands-on operations, and a deep understanding of financial metrics. For instance, Ola’s EV pilot has shown significant operational pressure on charging stations during peak periods and suggests utilisation challenges for infrastructure. The pilot also showed substantial potential for battery swapping as a reliable charging mechanism for small format vehicles.

During the Nagpur pilot, lithium-ion battery swapping increased the available operating time for three-wheelers by 25 percent compared to fixed battery systems, and by 50 percent when compared to lead-acid battery powered alternatives.

In addition, the report also presents data to encourage the usage of renewable energy to power EV infrastructure, which saw installing rooftop solar panels on Nagpur charging stations reduced the average electricity expense of the platform by 28 percent.

Anand Shah, senior vice-president and Head of Ola Mobility Institute (OMI), said, “The Nagpur pilot was designed to provide first-hand experience to inform a viable business model for electric vehicles at scale. We are convinced that the growing base of renewable energy combined with sound policy measures to promote high utilisation of EVs can make India an exemplar for market-based electric vehicle ecosystem.”

The Nagpur EV pilot fleet by Ola in Nagpur included a combination of e-rickshaws and e-cabs, and registered over 350,000 customers, clocked over 7.5 million km, which helped save over 570,000 litres of fossil fuel, and reduced CO2 emission by over 1,230 tons since its inception.

Also read: Ola's electrified fleet second largest globally: ICCT

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