As India Goes Electric, MellowVans Offers A Model for Cargo

One of the more heartening things about the introduction of electric vehicles in India has been the fact that it happened without any major government support. The famed subsidies and other incentives that it took to get a significant part of the population moving by EV’s, was never put to use here, as E-rickshaws, proliferated.

E-rickshaws simply filled a gap created by high priced CNG and other fossil fuel variants, by coming in at a lower price, and in cases like Delhi-NCR region, offering a lower pollution option to beleaguered  state authorities under pressure to show any action on crippling air pollution levels. Currently, market estimates total E-Rickshaws at close to 1.5 million across the country.

However, E-Rickshaws have had their limitations, running mostly on lead acid batteries, depending on a largely unorganised charging network, and prone to maintainance issues. And while the design is functional, a sight for sore eyes it certainly isn’t. That is one reason E-rickshaws thankfully haven’t been adopted for haulage work, though there is definitely a large market for small cargo EV’s to deliver last mile cargo in India now.

The massive success of the Tata Ace in the past decade, and the me too versions it spawned, points to the possibilities. In EV’s, it looks far more likely that we will see two wheelers replace their ICE counterparts for deliveries, before we see four wheelers that can pass muster. Even the Mahindra Esupro, an offering for the cargo segment, is for a larger size, and does not offer a leasing option.

It is here that we found the Mellowvans model worth reporting on. A south Africa based startup, Mellowvans has built a cargo EV that claims to have seen enough market traction across global markets to feel excited about. The van, which has a 4KW motor running on a battery pack of about 9 kWh (Lithium Iron Phosphate), claims to run for 100km per charge.

The MellowVans seeks to be the bridge between two wheelers and larger delivery vehicles, offering a higher load capacity and a compact size,offering both size and flexibility to handle the twists and turns of last mile delivery. The vans come with 2.4 meters of cargo space and  offer custom racking too. The firm’s founder has gone on record with a claim that it has been designed with both general parcels and food delivery in mind. It’s lockable cargo area has a decent 2.4 cubic meters of cargo space with a maximum load capacity of 150 kg.

But where the company really innovates it its consumer model. MellowVans offers its electric vans on a lease model. That seeks to overcome any capex related shyness at this stage with its no deposit lease plan . Sadly, the firm does make the mistake of hoping to make monies of advertising on its well designed vehicles, a model that could struggle to gain traction in a market like India, with both reluctant media buyers and municipal laws.

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