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Published on: June 9, 2024, 4:21 p.m.
NueGo takes a green drive
  • With its electric buses, GreenCell spreads the message of ‘clean energy, clean movement’

By S.M. Boothem

Climate change is a real issue the world is facing today. In India, there’s a lot of focus on moving to electric vehicles from ICE, which is typical diesel and e-maas (electric mobility as a service). As we have seen in India, the penetration of two-wheelers and three-wheelers has increased in the last couple of years.  Even electric buses are making a big impact. Why buses are the most important is that 70-72 per cent of India moves on buses and not on trains. Every day the tally of people who move by buses is the maximum.

And, if we really want to bring a change in emissions or pollution, then buses need to make an impact and play an important role in getting many more people than cars.  That is exactly what NueGo (a brand from GreenCell Mobility) electric buses are doing by plying across Indian cities. 

“In India, roughly a million buses ply the roads,” explains Devndra Chawla, MD & CEO, GreenCell Mobility. “India is the second largest bus country in the world after China and we have roughly 1 million buses, 200,000 of which run for the state and 800,000 for private transport companies. And 70-73 per cent of the people move by these means. So, our endeavour is to make sure that the ‘clean energy, clean movement’ concept is well-supported and funds are made available in all these areas, such as solar, wind, power and water energies and waste removal. We are the EV arm of the enterprise, 100 per cent funded by Eversource Capital. So, e-maas means that we want to make this big shift and support all the initiatives in India to make buses electric. We already have converted roughly 1,000 plus buses in India, which makes us the second largest operator of EV buses in India”.

Huge opportunity

NueGo EV buses operate from Delhi to Chandigarh, Agra, Shimla and Jaipur, as also from Chennai to Tirupati, to name a few routes. The company set a target to run more buses inter-city, because that’s where there is maximum people movement. The buses have so many features for the safety of the passengers and the drivers.

“I’m proud that today 30 per cent of passengers are women. We have been able to win the trust of women to travel in our buses. We are also one of the companies, which employ the highest number of women in the bus industry. We also have LGBTQs in our workforce to drive the buses. We are adding buses even as we speak and our total number of buses has exceeded 1,000 in 100 cities, covering Bhopal, Indore, Delhi, Chandigarh, Agra, Rishikesh, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Vijayawada, Tirupati, Shimla and many more,” adds Chawla, commenting on the expansion.

Greencell’s operations started one-and-a-half years back and, within a short time, NueGo buses were present in the northern, central and southern regions of India.  In Maharashtra, they run buses in Pune, Nashik and Nagpur.  The company’s major presence is in Uttar Pradesh with a maximum number of buses (700) operates in cities, such as Lucknow, Varanasi, Ayodhya and Kanpur, to name a few. They also plan to take the number of buses from 4,000 to 6,000 in the next 3-4 years. Indian bus travel market is roughly worth $55 billion and, by 2030, it could touch $100 billion. 

  • Chawla: we are bullish on  electric mobility

    Chawla: we are bullish on electric mobility

The opportunity is huge in the bus travel and the company wants to mainly focus on this segment. Currently, the buses ferry about 150,000 people, both inter- and intra-city every day.

“I think battery prices have been coming down in the last four years by 30-40 per cent,” says Chawla, talking about the EVs’ future in India. “I anticipate that, in the next one year, the prices will further come down and the cost of owning an EV will not be so costly. I strongly believe that the gap between ICE and EVs will narrow so much in the coming years that India will start converting to EVs faster. A lot of start-ups and big companies are also putting up charging infrastructure to help the EV movement.”

GreenCell is sitting pretty in terms of competition, with really nobody doing inter-city EV right now.  In India, you can have 10 Greencell mobilities in the next 10 years, because it’s such a big market and, in a way, good for the customer. The company is more than happy to compete, because that will make its performance better and improve the services. GreenCell has been promoted by investors, such as EverSource Capital, REC, Standard Chartered Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. “We are bullish that electric mobility as a service will be big and we want to be a part of the India Green story,” concludes Chawla confidently.

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