The company is India’s first all electric cab service with a fleet of 3,000 EVs

For the past decade, India’s ride hailing service industry has been dominated by Uber and Ola, who hold nearly 90% of the market share. But one company’s business model and futuristic vision of sustainable mobility is giving tough competition to these veterans and disrupting the shared mobility space. Launched in 2019 by five founders, BluSmart is India’s first and largest all electric cab hailing service. They dared to enter a heavily dominated market with a new technology at a time when scepticism about India’s e-mobility future and ecosystem was fairly high. But their conviction in their business model, passion for electric mobility and sustainable transport, and a risk taking appetite has helped them quickly gain ground. Today, they have a fleet of 3,000 electric cars and 140 million+ clean kms in their portfolio, which has saved 9,800+ tonnes of CO2 emissions till date. They cracked the dual challenge of financing their electric fleet and building their own charging infrastructure through strategic partnerships, and have become a classic case study for other cab aggregators on how to transition to electric.

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Daring to dream big pays off 

BluSmart founders, Anmol Singh Jaggi, Punit K Goyal, Tushar Garg, Anirudh Arun, and Rishabh Sood,  started as a vendor of Uber and operated around 70 electric cars through the Uber app. They quickly recognised the consumer dissatisfaction emerging in cab hailing services, such as surge pricing, high cancellation rates, long wait times, and built a business strategy to address exactly this. They are proud to offer zero emissions, zero surge and zero ride denial services to its customers, with zero financial investments from its driver partners.

Fig 1 – BluSmart is building its own ecosystem of charging stations and hubs through strategic partnerships.

Key to their success has been the strategic partnerships they have forged to build an enabling environment in which their business can flourish. At a time when the larger automotive industry was stuck on the “chicken and egg” debate about demand and supply of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure as a prerequisite, BluSmart believed that the Indian customer was ready for a sustainable and cost effective solution. They focused on building the EV ecosystem themselves through strong partnerships such as with Jio-BP to set up a network of commercial large scale EV charging stations for their fleet. With their support, BluSmart has more than 1,500 charging stations and 15 charging hubs across their operating locations (Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru). They have an ambitious vision of ensuring a fleet of 1,00,000 EVs by 2025, and towards this, the company has partnered with Tata Motors and Quiklyz. Tata Motors will supply them with 10,000 EVs, in addition to the 3,500 ordered in 2021. Quiklys is the vehicle leasing and subscription business of Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services and will provide BluSmart with customised leasing for 500 EVs.

Fig 2 – With a next to zero wait time and cancellation record, BluSmart is ensuring highest customer satisfaction. This is helping them rapidly gain market in Delhi NCR.

Customers have responded well to BluSmart’s services, with their cabs reaching before or on time in 97% cases. Given that they have much lower running cost, currently at Rs 1.4 per km, they can offer rides that are 15% cheaper than the competition on average. Their drivers, too, earn anywhere between Rs 22,000 to Rs 24,000 — about a third higher than the driver partners of its competition.

Till date, BluSmart has secured $56.8 million investments from domestic and international investors, and are in advanced stages of closing another $250 million. The company is valued at $81.1 million, and by the end of 2023, they expect to be profitable despite owning everything from vehicles to charging infrastructure. They would outperform Uber in this aspect, who has been in business for 10 years but still not profitable.

Ride hailing start-ups are embracing an all electric future 

Over the last two years, several new players have ventured into the cab aggregator market with all electric cab services, giving a boost to India’s e-mobility revolution. Snap Ecabs operates its fleet of 100 electric cabs in and around Kolkata, and aims to expand to 5,000 soon. Following in the footsteps of BluSmart, Snap Ecabs have also signed strategic partnerships with Charge+Zone to set up charging infrastructure for 2,000 EVs. Evera Cabs operates in and around Delhi and its fleet of 250 EVs have saved carbon emission equivalent to 12,500+ trees. Envi has been operating in Bengaluru since 2018 with 100+ electric vehicles. Some legacy players like Meru Cabs are also transitioning to electric, although slowly. Meru operates 300 electric cabs in Delhi and Mumbai and plans to expand to 10,000 EVs, but without a clear timeline. But the giants, Ola and Uber, are yet to make big announcements on converting to fully electric.

Fig 3 – Snap E-cabs operates its all electric cab service in Kolkata, and aims to have 5,000 EVs in its fleet soon.

Ride hailing cab and last mile delivery services have a significant role to play in supporting India’s transition to a zero emissions transport system. Many e-commerce and last mile delivery companies like Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato, Swiggy and others, have committed to 100% fleet electrification over the next decade. However, this transition is relatively slow among cab aggregators, and all electric cab services are dominated by start-ups. India’s e-mobility ecosystem has evolved considerably over the last two years, with more electric vehicle models in the market, reduced upfront cost, improved battery designs, better and faster charging solutions, and increased policy support at the state and central level. Now is the time for cab aggregators to invest in fleet electrification and contribute to India’s goals of climate action and air pollution reduction.