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The BluSmart Way: Enabling Electric Vehicle Cab Services in India

Published On
June 9, 2023
Read Time
Shreya Ganguly

The ride-hailing market in India is a competitive one and is a battleground for many leading startups. 

In a short span, electric vehicle ride-hailing startup BluSmart has established itself as one of the leading players. 

What did it do differently?

Speaking with Scalix, Punit Goyal, Co-founder, BluSmart, said that one of the reasons behind their success is that BluSmart believes that the electric mobility business is not just a ride-hailing or mobility business but “energy, infrastructure, and mobility” business.

BluSmart charging stations. Image Credit: BluSmart

 “We are building a large-scale EV charging infrastructure and in it, we have hundreds of parking spots and charging stations for our BluSmart cars. We have created an inclusive, integrated, full-stack model where we have complete control over charging infrastructure, electric fleet, our own technology, and driver partners which enables us to provide superior customer experience,” Punit says.

Making a mark

Founded in 2019 by Anmol Singh Jaggi and Punit Goyal, Delhi NCR and Bengaluru -based BluSmart is an all-electric ride-hailing mobility service and EV charging superhub infrastructure operator.. Amid fierce competition, BluSmart has made its mark in the market for its slew of features, including zero tail pipe emission, zero surge, and zero ride denials to its customers and also zero financial investment from its driver partners.

At present, BluSmart operates an all-electric fleet of over 4000 cars across Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru. The startup claims to be adding up to 500-1000 cars every month and plans to have 10,000 EVs by FY24.

Image Credit: BluSmart

BluSmart has completed over 6 million trips since inception while saving over 14600 tons of CO2. It operates over 2600 charging stations across 23 BluSmart EV charging superhubs for its fleet. Punit explains that these superhubs not only service BluSmart vehicles but also welcome other vehicles looking for charging.

According to Punit, putting in place a holistic approach has been a crucial factor that enabled the startup to scale up its services. 

He explained that BluSmart began on the basis of three fundamental founding tenets:

i) The future of mobility including ride-hailing or public transportation is electric. This will be enabled by several factors such as better unit economics, lower total cost of operations and fuel cost savings. 

ii) Ensure creating a supply-side innovation, building the infrastructure and the technology. De-couple the drivers from owning the asset but just focus on driving safely and securely.

iii) Providing a customer-centric approach by introducing zero ride denial and zero surge policy.

Ensuring smooth customer experience forms the core for BluSmart and thus they ensure that the driver partners are regularly trained through their monthly training and upskilling sessions.

BluSmart’s USP over the giants

Clean mobility is a major area of focus for India. The Indian government is working towards achieving an ambitious goal of ensuring 30 percent EV penetration for private automobiles, 70 percent for commercial vehicles, and 80 percent for two and three-wheelers which would mean about 102 million EVs on the road. 

With a huge focus on electric vehicle transition and the adoption of clean mobility on the commercial front, ride-hailing companies are looking to transition as well. 

In January, reports revealed that Bengaluru-based Ola was looking to begin a pilot for its EV cab services with around 1000 cabs. Meanwhile, Uber was also reported to be planning to introduce 25,000 electric vehicles over three years for its ride-sharing services.

While the aggregator taxi services are also looking to expand their foothold in the e-mobility sector, a 2021 report by Pitchbook revealed that this could be challenging for ride-hailing businesses if they do not own and operate fleets or e-mobility infrastructure. 

Highlighting the USP, Punit says,“ BluSmart holds a formidable edge over its competition by being a pioneer and a born electric company with an EV-centric foundation. We have a technological advantage that underpins the entire electric ride-hailing business model. With over four years of operational experience under our belt, BluSmart has a significant advantage in building charging infrastructure, comprehending the performance of EVs, building an asset ownership-free model, and trust among our customers.”
BluSmart EV charging superhub. Image Credit: BluSmart

He also added, “Other incumbents will fall short on their EV mandate as all they will be able to do is incentivise their drivers to purchase electric vehicles and that could be one of their biggest limitations. Now the driver who is being incentivized to purchase the EV is not buying an EV because the major headwinds for him are the cost of financing an EV.”

Challenges and way ahead

Like any other business, BluSmart too had to overcome its fair share of challenges initially such as charging infrastructure limitations, and scaling the electric vehicle fleet among others.

Punit believes that over the years, BluSmart could find good partners who played a fundamental role in scaling up the business.

Apart from this, government push towards electric vehicles, COVID-19-led disruptions, and increased costs of CNG were three major tailwinds for BluSmart.

Image Credit: BluSmart

Earlier in May, the startup raised $42 million in a bridge round over 50% of which was subscribed by the BluSmart founders and leadership team and rest by existing energy investors. Meanwhile, BluSmart’s first institutional investor Mayfield India has reportedly exited the company after  Co-founder and CEO Anmol Singh Jaggi bought back the two percent stake for Rs 32 crores.

At present, operating across Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru, the startup will continue to focus on the existing geographies. Punit explains that BluSmart will now scale up in the existing two major geographies and then expand to other mega cities in India.

India has been ranked third among the top seven emitters of greenhouse gas, according to Emissions Gap Report 2022 by UNEP, and the transportation sector is reported to be the key contributor to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in India.

As the country charges towards achieving its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the contributions of startups such as BluSmart can be extremely crucial towards achieving clean mobility.