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22 February 2023

Tata and Uber sign fleet deal in boost for India’s EV market

Tata Motors and Uber have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to be inducted into Uber India’s premium fleet service. Tata will begin vehicle deliveries in a phased manner this month. The deal aims to work towards Uber’s environmental goals by beginning to decarbonize its operations in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Ahmedabad.

EVs make far too much sense for many businesses to ignore, especially businesses with high mileage demands like Uber. This is owing to the significant increases in fuel efficiency gained from operating an electric drive train compared to a traditional combustion engine. Despite current electricity costs, the cost per mile of electricity remains less than a gasoline vehicle. Even if this isn’t the case in India, the longer working lifespan of an EV due to the comparative absence of mechanical components makes them a better option than almost any ICE vehicle when it comes to reliability.

Tata is deploying its dedicated EV brand for fleets – XPRES and the XPRES-T is an electric sedan with standard and plus range models that boast 277km and 315km ranges respectively. The longer-range model has just a 26kwh battery and can be charged from 0-80% in an hour.

Something Uber will need to address is charging within the country, fleets are expected to pose a significant challenge to electricity demand and supply, particularly within countries where infrastructure might not sufficient. Catering primarily to the luxury market makes sense here, as this means operating in an urban area where infrastructure is significant.

Faster charging needs to become widely available alongside batteries that support it – it isn’t much use having extremely fast charging if it destroys a battery after 500 cycles. These technologies can’t commercially succeed without one another, and this is especially important for use within business fleets.

India’s EV market is set for a big year, while it seems to have remained small due to the lack of urgency in the country’s environmental goals, it’s leading the world in 2-wheeled EV sales due to its large scooter and motorcycle-using population. The presence of the Tata Group has helped immensely as well, the company’s diversity from vehicles to chemicals and further afield has helped it develop significant facilities within its home country while looking to develop it further through investments in battery plants.

About 2 weeks before the climax of the Britishvolt fiasco Tata Motors announced it would be looking to build its own battery factories for its EV production, looking elsewhere in Europe and in India as its main options. The company’s dominance within the Indian EV market and ownership of other companies that cater towards different markets like Jaguar Land Rover puts it in good stead going forwards so long as it can deliver on its required battery demand.