Did you know that on an average, each one of us spends up to two hours travelling on a daily basis? That’s roughly ten percent of your life spent on commute. While some see this as a challenge, how does the world view it? Kannan Chakravarthy, Head of Smart Sustainable Mobility Solutions at Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. took to the stage at the 10th edition of TechSparks to talk about why the future of mobility is electric, and the dividends of shifting to a cleaner and low-carbon transport system.
Looking back, India’s urbanisation rate has been high, with its SENSEX reflecting this trend. “In the last 10 years, the SENSEX has given returns of 16 percent,” said Kannan adding that although India has its share of challenges, it also is a land of opportunity with multiple and innovative unicorns. With regard to urbanisation, transportation is one of the top three challenges, but each country handles it in its unique way. Mass mobility as a service is emerging as one of the key unique innovative opportunities.
Although critics argue that this mass has not propagated properly, Kannan believes that the adaptation in Europe and other developed countries has made a minor impact of five to ten percent. “Some of us wonder if India will really adapt to mass. Yes, there are infrastructural challenges, we have inadequate support in terms of financing, to provide a robust mass architecture. But we see this evolving, and India is going to have its own unique story,” he added.
Expanding on the self-driving market, Kannan spoke about how in a developed country, self-drive is a trade-down market, where individuals own their primary vehicle (typically an SUV) costing over Rs 15 lakhs, but choose a mobility vehicle like hatch or sedan when they travel. Whereas, in the Indian market, the evaluation is high. “Self-drive market is a trade-up market here. I may own an Alto or Swift, but when I go for a self-drive during the weekend, I want to show what my aspirations are.” The way the self-drive market has evolved in India is unique and unlike any other country. Similarly, mobility as a service has the potential to evolve into a bigger innovative segment.
Kannan also spoke about how the opportunity is going to shape up using a pictorial graph with the y-axis representing owned vehicles and the x-axis dominated by Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles or electric vehicles. “If you look at a developed country like the US, electric vehicles are evolving in the lowermost quadrant, in the personal segment. If you look at India, most of the electric vehicles are being used by commercial players in the object of the mobility segment,” he said.
He delved on several other key differences in mobility. In international markets, most of the offerings are focused on driver-centric features, whereas in India, it’s more passenger-centric. “It’s a great opportunity here as a collaborative platform. You’re not looking at targeting just one customer, but potentially three of them.”
On who would dominate the Indian mobility segment going forward, he added that even with bigger players like Uber in the market, unique Indian solutions are going to evolve which are specifically for Indian customers and not entirely relevant for developed countries.
Another key difference is whether the solution would be led by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) or collaborative platforms. “In Tesla, most solutions are OEM-led, but in India, there is a multitude of startups emerging. It’s going to be a collaborative effort of many going to shape the future of mobility.”
The opportunity for businesses to partner with Glyd
According to Kannan, by participating in electric mobility solutions, you are not only realising your business potential, but it is also a societal cause.
At Mahindra, they have built an in-house startup called Glyd. “We are trying to redefine the work commute. There are close to 15 mobility-centric features currently which make commute very comfortable. The CVP we offer to our commuters is clean, connected and convenient,” he added.
The platform they are developing follows the 'wheel of experience' model and in each component, they identify multiple startups to improve the lifestyle of commuters. The first is focused on health, which is classified into multiple action verbs like ‘breathing’ etc. “When you’re commuting to office, the freshness quotient is key. You need to reach your office with the same level of freshness you had when you left home.” Today, he said, the commute offered has scope for enhancement, providing startups with an opportunity to partner with Glyd and provide solutions.
On the productivity front, as the commute is breaking the flow, they want to partner with startups to enhance productivity by merging office and home. In this module, they are trying to integrate office and home, and the commute is just seamlessly incorporated into this. They have video conferencing facilities through partnerships with players like Zoom and Vodafone Idea Ltd.
Most of us, when we return home from work, look to refresh or simply enrich ourselves with good content. And Glyd solves this by focusing on efficiency through entertainment and education platforms, by partnering with different content and educational partners.
Apart from this, Glyd is doing multiple last-mile commute experiments. “We offer multiple opportunities for startups to collaborate with us, whether in terms of mid-mile commute or last-mile commute,” concluded Kannan.
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