Online grocery retailer Grofers has added sustainability to its last-mile delivery with the introduction of EVs (electric vehicles). This move follows a feasibility pilot conducted by Grofers in Delhi with 50 EVs last August/September.

The shift to EVs is also in line with the Government of India’s commitment to reduce carbon footprint, which encourages fuel based vehicles to be replaced with electrically powered vehicles.

With the launch of 50 three-wheeler EVs in Jaipur on Monday, besides the 100 three-wheeler EVs in Delhi that are already operational, the start-up plans to deploy 500 electrically powered three-wheelers across its 13 operational markets by the end of 2019.

“The addition of EVs will help cut down our last-mile delivery costs by up to 50 per cent and carbon footprint by more than 40 per cent. With one charge these EVs can run for 60-70 kms and each has a load bearing capacity of 30 orders, costing Rs ₹20,000–₹25,000 per month. Compare this with our diesel and CNG four-wheelers which have greater load bearing capacity of up to 50 orders but cost us ₹60,000–₹65,000 to run,” Saurabh Kumar, founder of Grofers, told BusinessLine .

Last mile delivery cost currently constitutes 3-4 per cent of Grofers’ overall GMV, which it hopes to bring down to 2 per cent by the year-end. Grofers has partnered with EFleet Logix which operates in Delhi and Jaipur and leases the three-wheeler EVs to Grofers which handles everything else from drivers, to battery upkeep to setting up charging station infrastructure with help from the government.

Asked when Grofers will convert its entire last mile delivery fleet to EVs, Kumar said “that will take us a couple of years as it takes time to create infrastructure”. “We are also looking to bring down our first mile delivery cost of transportation from distribution centre to warehouse and back and are working with EFleet Logix to fabricate electrically powered four-wheelers with higher load bearing capacity for the same,” he said.

Rival BigBasket uses electric vehicles for deliveries in Hyderabad and Delhi-NCR and solar power in warehouses across Bengaluru, Gurugram, and Chennai. India’s largest e-commerce marketplace Flipkart announced its plans to replace nearly 40 per cent of its existing last-mile delivery vans fleet with E-Vans by March 2020, starting with 160 E-Vans to be deployed across cities by the end of 2019. Food ordering and delivery start-up Swiggy enables over 1 million deliveries a month on cycles.