Oye! Rickshaw looks to invest up to $500M over three years on battery swapping infra for electric 3-wheelers

The company, which is backed by investors such as Matrix Partners, Chiratae Ventures, Xiaomi and industrialist Pawan Munjal, will be putting in close to $ 20-30 million between this year and the next to accelerate its battery swapping business.
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Electric mobility startup Oye! Rickshaw plans to invest up to $ 500 million (over Rs 3,700 crore) in the next three years to set up battery swapping infrastructure for electric three-wheelers across India, according to a top company official.

The company, which is backed by investors such as Matrix Partners, Chiratae Ventures, Xiaomi and industrialist Pawan Munjal, will be putting in close to $ 20-30 million between this year and the next to accelerate its battery swapping business.

It had set a target of deploying 10,000 lithium-ion batteries by the end of this year but the plans have been impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is now looking at deploying 6,500 lithium-ion batteries across 5,000 vehicles.

Oye! Rickshaw is also focusing on expanding its delivery business which has grown multiple folds during the COVID-19 second wave to offset the impact on its ride business by the pandemic.

Mohit, Founder and CEO, Oye! Rickshaw

"Talking about the next three years, we are going to invest somewhere close to (USD) 400 to 500 million. That's a big number as it seems but yes, that sort of investment is going to go in... and talking about a short term view, means this year or maybe next year, we are going to invest close to $ 20 to 30 million," Oye! Rickshaw CEO and Co-founder Mohit Sharma told PTI.

The investments will be for creation of battery swapping infrastructure across India, he added.

The company currently has a presence mainly centred around Delhi-NCR and parts of Haryana with over 5,000 driver partners on its shared, electric, and micro-mobility marketplace for e-rickshaws.

Stating that the battery swapping business is a relatively new one for the company, Sharma said at present close to 250-300 driver partners have onboarded for battery swap.

"By December 2021, most of our fleet is going to be on swap...Our plan is to double up our supply in the next five or six months...So these amount to about 6,500 batteries needed to be purchased," he added.

When asked about the funding of the investment, Sharma said, "Right now, we are sufficiently capitalised...also, the economics are working well for us. So, we are not into that cash burning game. We are very efficient in that sense but at the same time growing like 30 percent month-on-month. I think the growth rate is fine with improving economics and for the next round, we are not immediately looking for funds."

Last year, the company had raised $ 12 million.

Commenting on the impact of the pandemic, Sharma said when the first wave hit, the company had "complete recalibration of the strategy of how we wanted to move forward. So, we front-loaded the delivery and the battery swap" to aid its ride business and set the target of deploying 10,000 lithium ion batteries and scale up delivery business in 10 more cities.

The company was "completely 100 percent on track till early part of April 2021", he said adding while the delivery business has doubled during the second wave, the rides business was impacted by around 80 percent as people were not travelling, while the battery swapping has "largely been flat or with a minor impact on it".

"Net-net, unlike last year, when we were impacted 100 percent, this year the impact was contained under like 30-40 percent," Sharma said, adding now the company's target is to get back to the original plans by September 2021.

Bullish on the market for its business, Sharma said the potential is huge with millions of users and it will further grow with covid vaccinations increasing and people responding well.

Oye! Rickshaw claims that it has over 13 lakh registered users with 91 lakh rides and 51 lakh deliveries completed.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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