The distinctively blue BluSmart charging hub, with its capacity to charge 80-100 electric cars at once, contrasts its dusty Gurugram surroundings. Everything from charging bunks to drivers’ uniforms to the EVs themselves are branded blue at the hub.
Though the EV fleet company seems to be in the pink of health.
With about 600 EVs plying in the Delhi-NCR region, and seven charging hubs, BluSmart is the only scaled-up, all-EV fleet undercutting the dominant ride-hailing model in India. Started in 2019 as a 50-EV experiment on the ‘Uber model’—by clean energy entrepreneurs Anmol Jaggi and Punit Goyal—BluSmart today owns all its cars and has a “zero-cancellation, zero-surge” policy.
As it now transitions from a regional player to an all-electric national service, it’s building strong alliances.
BluSmart signed an MoU with Tata Motors to add 3,000 EVs to its fleet in October 2021. And to ensure these EVs have somewhere to charge, it tied up with Jio-BP—a joint venture between RIL and BP— the month before to set up “Superhubs” across the country. It has also raised $13 million from the UK-based mobility investment firm BP Ventures—its first investment in India—for its latest $25 million Series A round. With this, BluSmart will be able to expand its full-stack operations—fleet and charging hubs—to newer metros in India over the next two years.
So far, BluSmart’s run a controlled experiment with its EV fleet by putting fewer cars on the road than its gas-guzzling rivals. On the flip side, this has allowed it to figure out two crucial parts of the EV fleet puzzle—how to balance demand with asset utilisation.
“In an EV fleet, the more you run the asset, the better the economics get. BluSmart has been able to run its business with very little debt on its books,” says Harshvardhan Sharma, head of the auto practice at consulting firm Nomura. Currently, BluSmart claims that its fleet has close to 80-90% utilisation during morning rush hour, and its rides are 30% cheaper than the ICE ICE Internal Combustion Engine In an internal combustion engine, the ignition and combustion of the fuel occurs within the engine itself alternative.
The tight economics make BluSmart a good investment. But its platform is also a springboard for the budding EV charging rivalry between Tata and Jio-BP; they’re both looking to create captive charging networks throughout the country. Usually, EV fleets and charging stations are siloed businesses, which result in too many badly placed charging hubs.
“Tata is building out a public charging infrastructure for 4-wheelers and above. Jio-BP’s partnership with BluSmart is a challenge to Tata’s network,” says an executive with an EV mobility company, who didn’t want to publicly comment on a rival’s operations.