Mumbai-based cab service provider Meru Cabs has partnered with Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd to roll out electric vehicles (EVs) in India, starting with a pilot Hyderabad, reports PTI. The agency report adds that Meru intends to expand EVs to other cities based on the learnings from the pilot, and that it plans to move a major part of its fleet to EVs by 2022.

Riders will be able to book Mahindra eVerito in Hyderabad through Meru’s mobile app, and the fares will be in line with Telangana Government’s radio taxi fares for sedans, the PTI report adds.

Electric taxis in India

Note that Uber and Ola, which dominate the cab-hailing market in the country, are already testing electric vehicles across some cities in India. While Ola just reaffirmed its EV strategy, and said that it will add 10,000 electric vehicles in its fleet over the next year under its “Mission: Electric’, it is apparently scaling back its EV operations, according to Factordaily. This Reuters report quoted sources from Ola as saying that the EV project is not economically viable for the company as well as the drivers.This comes at the time when the government has dropped its plan to formulate a policy for EVs in India.

Charging issues and high costs

As we have earlier pointed out in our detailed report, electric cars have limited range, and right now there isn’t a proper ecosystem for charging stations in the country. Reuters in its report reveals Ola drivers partners in Nagpur for EVs are unhappy due to issues like long wait times at charging stations, high operating expenses; some of them have returned their EVs and switched back to fuel-based vehicles.

Charging times for these cars are crucial for operations, and India does not not have enough charging stations. Reuters also added that Ola hasn’t even set up half of its promised 50 charging points in Nagpur. With limited range and charging points, electric cars will not have the same freedom of mobility as petrol and diesel cars.