SMB Success Stories: The company currently has a fleet of 300 EVs, mainly tricycles, and aims to expand this to 2,500 this year along with a revenue target of Rs 75-80 crore in FY23, according to its MD Kalyan C. Korimerla .

SMB Success Stories: As the global supply chain industry gradually shifts to electric vehicles (EVs) in response to global calls for sustainability, Hyderabad-based Sathya Yalamanchili is helping more than 30 of India’s largest e-commerce and logistics companies to make their deliveries to make it greener . However, the vehicles used are not conventional EVs with a built-in electric motor and battery. In 2017, Yalamanchili launched Etrio, the first EV company in India to convert light commercial vehicles (LCVs) for intra-urban logistics. Vehicle retrofitting is the replacement of the combustion engine and connected parts of an existing vehicle with an electric motor and battery to convert it into an EV.

Interest in cars since his teens and opportunities in the electrification of vehicles, especially the passenger car segment as it dominates the Indian car market apart from two-wheelers drove Yalamanchili towards transforming existing cars into EVs. Starting with the retrofit of cars, Yalamanchili turned to taxi companies such as Ola and Uber, which had a large number of internal combustion engine vehicles, to convert taxis into electric cars instead of making an effort for private car owners.

Yalamanchili began work on 50 cab electrification kits in 2017 and 2018, including Maruti Suzuki Alto and Dzire. He contacted the drivers through taxi booking companies for about a week’s trial of these converted EVs and to get their feedback before installing retrofit cabs. to these companies.

When Yalamanchili was working on electric vehicles for passenger cars, she was approached by IKEA in 2019. The home furnishings brand had come across Etrio’s retrofit model through media and social media posts and wanted to have their vans modified for last-mile deliveries in Hyderabad. “They (IKEA representatives) said that while other IKEA stores are buying brand new electric vehicles, they would like to use retrofit trucks. While we were working on passenger cars for taxi booking companies, we didn’t want to say no to IKEA,” Yalamancili told Financial Express Online.

An average response from taxi drivers to retrofit cars pushed Yalamanchili towards trucks. “Cab drivers drive no less than 200 km per day. If you wanted to give that much range in a retrofit car on a single charge, the prices would also go up, which didn’t go down well with taxi drivers. So we adapted the business model towards electric freight vehicles after IKEA got in touch,” says Yalamanchili.

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Etrio cannibalized those electric passenger cars to convert Tata Ace trucks and deliver them to IKEA. Cannibalizing here is the use of parts of an existing vehicle to build another vehicle of similar size and structure. “For example, we switched to electric freight vehicles,” Yalamanchili adds. He noted that retrofitting was sort of a back door for him in the capital-intensive auto industry with less money and resources.

What worked in his favor was that the cost of cannibalizing was inexpensive. The general requirement to convert trucks for IKEA was about Rs 30-35 lakh but as we cannibalized existing cars to convert the trucks it cost us within Rs 30 lakh. It was special because we had the company fully started up until 2020,” said Yalamanchili.

While the pandemic wreaked havoc on the economy, it added to the company’s reasons for focusing on business-to-business (B2B logistics) as e-commerce deliveries increased dramatically amid lockdown restrictions on the movement of people and traffic Etrio raised its first $3 million external financing in September 2020 and leveraged it to expand its product portfolio from retrofit trucks to the production of electric tricycles.

With IKEA as its first customer, Etrio was able to bring in other e-commerce and logistics companies such as Amazon, Flipkart, Big Basket, Delhivery, Gati and others during the pandemic. “As we produced more of these higher payload EVs, more use cases were addressed, such as lower costs, more deliveries, etc., for logistics and e-commerce companies,” Kalyan C. Korimerla, Managing Director and Co-Promoter, told Etrio Financial Express Online. Etrio currently has a fleet of 300 EVs, mainly tricycles, and aims to expand it to 2,500 this year, along with a revenue target of Rs 75-80 crore in FY23, Korimerla said.

This post How this EV maker is helping IKEA, Amazon, Flipkart and other ecommerce and logistics companies go green with a twist

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