Flipkart, the Indian e-commerce giant, has announced that it will replace 40 percent of all its last-mile delivery fleets with electric vehicles by March 2020. This move is in line with the company’s overall carbon emissions goals. Ekart, the company’s logistics arm, expects this switch to electric vehicles will cut its carbon emissions by 50 percent. To make sure the vehicles are well-charged, up-and-running every day, Flipkart is installing charging stations at all its hubs.
Flipkart, which was acquired by Walmart last year for an estimated $16 billion, has been in a battle with Amazon for market dominance in India. Ekart, Flipkart’s logistics arm, delivers close to one million parcels daily across the country. “Our team is working with local ecosystem partners to help them co-design concepts for electric vehicles best suited for the growing e-commerce industry,” said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO of Flipkart Group.
Flipkart is now running pilot programs in the cities of Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad, testing its electric vans and bikes, with the idea of having 160 electric vans added to its fleet by the end of this year.
Though most of the countries on the planet have signed the Paris Accord and have pledged to do their part to reduce carbon emissions, the possibility of a disaster because of failing to meet the goals will fall squarely on a few countries like China and India – home to one-third of the world’s population.
Unlike the West, where vehicle ownership per capita is extremely high, these Asian nations are just in the process of pulling their people from poverty, and thus have significantly lower rates of vehicle ownership. This means that a country like India has a considerable advantage to regulate a market that is just at peaking, making sure the vehicles that are manufactured and sold strictly adhere to the regulations.
Cities in India also bear the brunt of high population density and chaotic traffic situations on their streets, as heterogeneous traffic and a general flouting of traffic rules cause intense bottlenecks – increasing both emissions and time of travel.
The Indian government has established an Urban Mobility Lab in New Delhi, which is envisioned as a platform to identify, develop and implement sustainable mobility solutions across the country’s capital.
Within the mobility segment in India, there has been a significant push to adopt electric vehicles, with Ola, a leader in cab-hailing, instituting a change within its ecosystem by introducing greener electric fleets. To make this happen, Ola received an investment of $300 million for its electric vehicle mobility initiative from South Korea’s Hyundai Motors and Kia Motors earlier this year.
Ola has also been at the forefront of lobbying the Indian government to create regulations that favor electric mobility – including policies that consider innovative techniques like battery swapping (to increase usage of electric vehicles), and infrastructure that allows for quicker charging.