The India-based auto manufacturer Mahindra and Mahindra will be partnering with the on-demand taxi service provider Uber on a new pilot that see electric vehicles deployed across the platform in Delhi and Hyderabad by March 2018, according to recent reports.
The new plug-in electric vehicle pilot is intended, reportedly, to serve as part of the overall push towards plug-in electric vehicle adoption in India — which is being pushed by the government there owing to massive air quality problems and fuel sourcing challenges.
Initially, several hundred plug-in electric vehicles will be rolled out — with Uber subsidizing the costs of the vehicles for its drivers and Mahindra providing finance, insurance, and service. It will start in the two cities previously stated, but expansion elsewhere could follow quickly.
However, Uber’s chief business officer for India and emerging markets, Madhu Kannan, noted: “For how long this pilot will go on is difficult to predict. … It will require adequate progress in engagement with our stakeholders before we plan to expand to other cities.”
Kannan also revealed that the company, as of yet, has no firm rollout targets or quotas for the pilot.
Reuters provides more: “The two companies will also work with public and private firms to set up charging stations for the cars in Hyderabad. Mahindra has previously said it would invest 6 billion rupees ($93 million) over the next 2 to 3 years to develop electric vehicles. The carmaker is currently working on two electric passenger vehicles, including one with its South Korean unit Ssangyong Motor Co.
“Mahindra also has a partnership with Ola in which the ride-hailing company agreed last year to procure 40,000 vehicles, including electric variants. … Uber joins local rival Ola, backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group, which earlier this year launched a pilot for electric cars in the western city of Nagpur and is planning a large-scale roll-out by next year.”
Mahindra’s managing director, Pawan Goenka, commented on the news: “Our collaboration with Uber is an important next step to help accelerate the large scale adoption of electric vehicles on share mobility platforms and meet the nation’s vision for EVs.”
As it stands, plug-in electric vehicle sales have been somewhat anemic, owing to the dearth of affordable offerings and limited charging infrastructure. This situation stands to change rapidly over the coming years, though, as battery prices and thus electric vehicle prices continue falling; and also as government support and charging infrastructure become more prevalent.
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