Etrio validates its strategic focal shift to intracity logistics with the launch of India’s first retrofit eLCV.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

Hyderabad-based Etrio has hit the bullseye. When the company sensed a business case for electrifying light commercial vehicles plying for intracity logistics, it was well aware of the risks associated with the major strategic focal shift. In line with its vision to become a leading EV player in the segment, the company has moved a step closer to realising its goals with the official launch of India’s first retrofitted eLCV. Built on the Tata Ace platform, its the culmination of an over two-year journey, from prototype to commercialisation. Speaking ahead of the launch, expressed Deepak MV, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Etrio, “This eLCV commercialisation is our success story and the official launch is the big validation of our vision to become a leading EV player in the intracity logistics space. The competitive eLCV will soon gain ground in the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) dominated segment.” The Etrio retrofit eLCV is priced at Rs.7.75 lakh (On-Road price – Delhi). The vehicle comes with a five-year battery warranty up to 1.3 lakh kilometres and a five-year powertrain warranty up to 1.5 lakh kilometres. The company is also offering an up to one year warranty on auxiliary components to make it a sweet deal for potential customers of the niche product.

Deepak MV, Co-founder and CEO, Etrio

The proto eLCV, built-in 2018, has since cleared many challenging stages leading to its commercialisation. This includes a client-demo in 2019 followed by a major breakthrough with Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) certifying the eLCV. Overcoming these hurdles, added Deepak, helped the company draw the attention of commercial fleets operators who eventually agreed to deploy the eLCV on their intracity routes. Deepak attributed the initial success to the company actioning on insights pointing at passenger vehicles not making a good business case for the company. “Etrio was quick to leverage the experience of retrofitting ICE-powered passenger vehicles as EVs for the foray into the light commercial vehicle segment,” he mentioned. Stated Deepak, gaining an “early movers advantage” meant that the EV design organisation graduated to Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)rank.

Offering business owners a payload-carrying capacity of up to 750 kg, Etrio has established itself as a partner in progress to 10 plus fleet operators like Amazon, Delhivery, Ikea, Flipkart, Gati, Mahindra Logistics and BigBasket to name a few. Notably, during the pandemic, the onroad eLCV fleet is claimed to have covered in excess of 40,000 km carrying out over 10,000 delivery assignments. Overall, the eLCV test run is claimed to span over 1.5 lakh kilometres. Deepak attributes the success to a bundled offering including solutions like driver training for the logistics and e-commerce players. A data-driven approach backed by telematics and guidance on charging infrastructure setup is believed to have further helped the company earn customer trust.

Setting it apart

The retrofit eLCV boasts of an intelligent 96V architecture. The eLCV offers a certified range of 120 Km (chargeable with a 16A home socket) and comes with an up to 180 cu.ft closed, high deck load body. Powered by a 20 kWh Lithium-Ion battery (with cooling), it draws a rated motor power of 15 kW and delivers a peak torque of 120 Nm. Among other USPs are a compact eAxle and regenerative braking. To enhance ride comfort, it is fitted with a double chrome suspension, and offers automatic experience, 160/180 mm disc brakes at the front and the rear, 12 magnet pedal assist and waterproof electric connectors enhance the drive. On the safety front, the eLCV has a smart Battery Management System (BMS), IP67 design with multiple failure protection control, thermal management of complete systems besides advanced software controls. Among other value adds is the isolation protection, low flammability LFP cells and auto-charging cutoff. On the connected front, the eLCV offers GPS, geofencing, remote immobilisation, predictive maintenance, drive diagnostics, cell health and performance feedback. For instance, it relays motor health and performance and power electronics health and performance through the integrated Etrio custom app. On Big data, Deepak added that the solution offers data-driven insights through the unique driver scorecards and thereby claimed to drive a significantly improved operational efficiency over the conventional LCVs.

Total Cost of Ownership
A customer can look forward to saving 60 per cent of the operational cost. For instance, a running cost saving of rupees four per kilometre effectively translates to an Rs.2000 saving per month. Explained Deepak, the electrification exercise not only translates to a new lease of life for fleets, with a minimum five years’ extension, in the long run, the customer stands to benefit from the lower acquisition, lifecycle and residual value compared to diesel ICE-powered vehicles. An Etrio study on the cost of ownership in comparison to a new ICE and second-hand ICE powered Tata Ace brings out valuable customer insights. For instance, over a daily run of 80 km, the cost of the eLCV overlaps the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a second hand Tata Ace. Over a daily run of 100 km, the TCO of the eLCV matches the price of a new Tata Ace. Over a daily run of 140 km, studies show that the eLCV offers a significant TCO saving in comparison to both a new and second hand Tata Ace.

Transforming intracity logistics
Claimed to be a first-of-its-kind initiative to transform and electrify intra-city logistics, Etrio, shared Deepak, has a annual production capacity of 5000 vehicles. An alumnus of Tata Motors, Deepak opined, “It is a transformational move with the capacity introduction at this level. This will not only reshape the e-commerce logistics space but also have a deeper impact on the EV ecosystem.” Etrio is eyeing the retro fitment of over two million Tata Aces’ plying on the intracity routes. The company will manufacture the eLCV from a 30,000 sq.ft facility in Hyderabad. Aiming to improve its localisation levels by the end of FY2021, the company is in talks with vendors and coaxing them to turn OEMs themselves in a bid to cut its import dependencies from China and Hong Kong.

Etrio is also expected to benefit from the preferential market access among other incentives announced for local manufacturers by the Telangana government in its EV policy. The guidelines for Environmentally Sound Facilities (ESF) for handling, processing and recycling ELVs within the purview of the larger scrappage policy is also expected to benefit the company. Etrio, confirmed Deepak, has received interest in producing 1200 eLCVs as a testimony to the product’s acceptance in the market. Despite Covid-19 setting off-targets by a quarter and softening of the near to medium-term outlook, in phase two of its growth, the company is aiming at building a strong revenue model and a deeper dealership level penetration. The focus will shift from a pure B2B strategy to B2C over the medium term said Deepak. With higher investments earmarked for in-house manufacturing, product development will continue to remain a priority for the technology company. “Later this year, we will also launch a cargo electric three-wheeler expected to be the face of the organisation,” he concluded. ACI

Scientific retro fitment

In a five-stage process, the retro fitment is claimed to be a quality-controlled process. Explained Deepak, the vehicle starts with a 150-point checklist followed by the stripping of the vehicle of its internal combustion parts. This includes the engine and the auxiliary removal, the removal of engine suspension like springs, brakes, tyres, auxiliary components removal, rear axle and components besides the exhaust assembly removal. It is followed by mechanical and electrical retrofitment succeeded by the testing and quality inspection process ahead of the rollout.



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