Bengaluru-based Lithium Urban Technologies (Lithium), a electric vehicle (EV) cab provider to corporate sector, has roped in International Finance corporation (IFC) for proposed $8 million investment for an equity. IFC, which is World Bank's investment arm, offers investment, advisory and asset-management services to encourage private-sector development in developing countries.

Lithium, which currently provides electric cab services to corporate customers in Bengaluru and Delhi NCR, plans to expand its operations in other part of the country, apart from entering other businesses in electric mobility, which are currently being piloted.

IFC’s investment is part of the startup’s fund-raising round with additional capital being provided by other investors to expand the footprint. IFC is considering an equity or quasi equity type of investment in the company. The investment will be through Compulsorily Convertible Preference Shares (CCPS) as part of the company's fund-raising round.

Founded in 2014 by Sanjay Krishnan, who is also the founder of early-2000's internet startup, Lithium provides business critical corporate employee transportation (CET) to blue chip companies in information technology (IT) and IT enabled services (ITES) sector by providing a fleet of electric vehicles. The company was incorporated in October 2014 and began operations in July 2015.

Lithium, which has raised $5 million in debt and equity so far, currently has a fleet of about 350 electric vehicles and is planning to expand the fleet in line with market demand. It currently has operations in Bengaluru and NCR and has plans to expand to Pune, Hyderabad, and Chennai. The startup follows an asset model under which it buys its vehicles and provides transportation services to its clients through drivers.

Besides offering corporate employee transportation service through EVs, Lithium also offers DC-fast charging infrastructure and integrated fleet management technology to companies with large employee base and predictable travel schedules. Lithium plans to enter other business in electric mobility, which are currently being piloted.

Moreover, the EV startup has signed an agreement with the government to provide 60 electric chargers across the Delhi-NCR region for public use, for which it will get financial assistance from the government. The company now wants to add to this infrastructure and is working on partnerships with private players to achieve this end.

Coming back to IFC's investment in Lithium, the disclosure document mentioned that IFC’s involvement with the project will help Lithium adopt a structured framework to manage its social and environmental systems which will act as a benchmark for a sector that is serviced by largely unorganised players.

IFC will help Lithium to develop corporate governance standards. Lithium is in the process of scaling up operations and IFC’s investment at this stage will provide the company with patient capital needed for the growth phase as it explores new avenues for EV applications.

Electric Mobility Activities in India

Earlier this month, India's automobile major Mahindra's EV subsidiary Mahindra Electric started deploying a fleet of 100 units of its small electric car Mahindra e2o in Delhi to be available to consumers on rent in partnership with Bengaluru-based self-drive car rental firm Zoomcar.

In this same month, a Mumbai-based startup called Strom Motors has unveiled an electric car that would cost mere ₹3 lakh. The electric car however is of compact segment and unlike other e-cars has three wheels instead of four.

In January, IndianWeb2 reported that Hriman Motors, a Delhi-based startup, is working on building a 2-Seater electric car which one can rent for 50 Paise per kilometer. The electric car will have a battery that will never need to be replaced and will be IoT-enabled. The car is expected to launch in mid of this year.

A draft of India’s 10-year energy blueprint has revealed that the government is expecting as much as 57 percent of the country’s total electricity capacity to come from non-fossil fuel sources by the year 2027 -- a significant increase over the India's Paris agreement targets, which has asked the member countries to reach 40 percent non-fossil fuel electricity by the year 2030.

Last May, Indian government established policy think tank, Niti Aayog, released a report called Transformative Mobility Solutions for India wherein it revealed India's plan for electric cars and charging stations infrastructure.

In the same month, India’s home-grown cab hailing firm, Ola had launched - Ola Electric, India’s first multi-modal electric platform that includes electric autos, cars, and buses in Nagpur. Ola and Mahindra have had partnered with the Government of India in a first-of- its-kind programme to build an electric mass mobility ecosystem in Nagpur which will bring about a transformational change in the automotive and transportation landscape in the country.

The above news was first reported in Financial Express.

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