Air pollution is a leading cause of morbidity around the world. The WHO estimates that air pollution is responsible for 4.2 million deaths around the world and the air quality in the nation’s capital city was so bad a couple of years ago that schools shut down and the government had to implement measures like the ‘Odd-Even’ rule. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) says that even now, Delhi needs to reduce its pollution levels by 65 per cent to meet the clean air standards for PM2.5.
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And for Vineet J. Mehra, providing green mobility to tackle the growing air pollution problem in Delhi was one of the major reasons when he conceptualised DOT in August, 2015 in Gurugram.
In the almost four years of its inception, the start-up has received many awards including the Excellence Award in the field of Green Mobility by NASSCOM in 2018 and the “Green Logistics of the Year –Start –up” at the Inflection Summit & Awards on September, 2018.
How was DOT founded and their services
Vineet mentions that the idea for DOT came with his need to solve the issue of last mile connectivity in a sustainable manner. They are doing this by providing delivery services to other start-ups and companies. DOT provides the option of e-cargos and e-bikes to their clients to fulfil their delivery needs in an eco-conscious way.
These vehicle options also come with drivers and delivery executives so that the delivery can be efficiently completed without the clients having to worry about it.
“Simply put, DOT is a B2B start-up in the green logistics mobility space focused around creating an ecosystem which is electric, safe, cost-effective, sustainable and environmentally-friendly. It offers delivery solutions which is unique and innovative though its fleet of E-Cargo vans and E-Bikes to solve the age-old problem of urban logistics,” says DOT’s 38 year-old founder Vineet. These vehicles have advanced technology platforms like machine learning and artificial intelligence incorporated into them.
Vineet was previously working with British steel trading and distribution company, Stemcor as the Executive Director before he decided to start his own venture in 2015. The initial services after the launch of Dot involved e-bike taxi and rental where one could rent an e-bike to either be dropped at their destination or ride it themselves.
However, this service had to be discontinued in 2017 as this model was not feasible for the start-up. “The demand for these vehicles was only during the peak hours as opposed to the rest of the day. As a startup, this did not seem functional for us,” explains Vineet.
After this, they went all in to excel in the delivery service. After functioning in this sector for a while, Vineet, in July 2017, also realised that the electric vehicles they used needed to be more suitable for Indian roads and traffic.
Therefore, he founded another start-up that could manufacture electric vehicles with high functionality and were relevant in the Indian context. This start-up was named Li-ions Elektrik which manufactures e-cargos and e-bikes for their DOT operations. They formally launched their vehicles for sale only in late June this year. The e-cargos are priced at Rs. 3.5 lakh while the e-bikes are for Rs. 1.2 lakh.
Kannan Murthy, 44, National head of transportation and vendor management at Big Basket, says that he first heard of DOT’s services from people in the industry. “We liked what they pitched to us. Not only are the vehicles efficient in helping us complete our deliveries but is also eco friendly. That is why we decided to work with them,” he says.
They started availing DOT’s services from April 2019 and currently have 11 e-cargos and 23 two wheelers which fulfil their deliveries.
Subhajit Dutta, 30, Fulfillment Centre Manager at Medlife, Kolkata, says that DOT approached them about six to seven months back. Since then, they have been working with DOT and together they complete about 300 deliveries in a day.
Challenges and Impact
Despite the progress that DOT has made, there were several challenges that they faced in their operations. “When we started in 2015, there was no eco-system for EVs. We had to create our own mini ecosystem, which involved acquiring a fleet of 200 EVs and setting up of parking and charging infrastructures,” says Vineet.
He further explains the financing of EVs is an even bigger challenge. Unlike in the case of vehicles that run on fossil fuel, they had to pay much higher interest rates when they availed loans to buy the electric vehicles back in 2015, instead of manufacturing them. Another challenge was training the manpower.
However, they have overcome these challenges gradually, one step at a time.
Vineet continues to feel that in terms of charging facilities, there is a need for good infrastructure which could considerably reduce their logistical costs. “This can be addressed by setting
up charging and swapping infrastructure, wherein the Govt. needs to play an important role to increase range and penetration of these vehicles,” he says.
Currently, DOT is operating in around 30 cities in India and expects to expand geographically in over 600 cities and towns (spread over 17 states of India). They also plan to expand globally in Australia, Canada and Singapore through their holding company based out of Singapore. They are working with about 25 to 30 companies like Amazon, Big Basket, Walmart, Medilife, Udaan, Lenskart, Godrej Nature’s Basket, McDonalds, Swiggy, Theobroma, Grofers among others.
Currently, DOT has 200 e-cargo vans and 75 two-wheelers. Vineet says that in the future they want to add 1,200 more two-wheelers to their current fleet.
“Mobility plays a significant role in the overall development of a Nation’s Economy and to address the concern of greenhouse gases, where transportation is a major contributor, adoption of Electric Vehicles can fulfill the promise of reducing carbon intensity for a sustainable future,” says Vineet signing off.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)