ased in India, Lithium Urban Technologies is pioneering a shift toward more sustainable urban mobility, operating the most productive electric vehicle fleet in the world. This company is India’s first 100 percent, zero emission transport service, providing a large fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) along with highly trained and certified drivers. With the lowest energy cost per kilometer on the market, Lithium offers the cheapest and cleanest commercial transport option on the market – and it’s the largest fleet outside of China.
Sanjay Krishnan, co-founder and CEO of Lithium, discusses his mission of bringing a clean, shared, distributed and connected transportation option to the masses.
What inspired you to start this company?
I’ve had previous experiences with creating urban transportation solutions, especially with setting up India’s first organized private taxi service 15 years ago. My co-founder, Ashwin Mahesh, has done seminal work on municipal mass transit, urban land use planning, and civic governance over the last decade. He’s also a winner of the Ashoka Fellowship.
The need for a cleaner environment in India is so apparent. The opportunity and the business case to drive the adoption of renewables stares at us every moment of every day.
Why did you want to solve this problem?
We all know the problems of hydrocarbon energy security, supply limitations, air quality and more. We also know that elements of the solutions already exist – and have existed for some time now. For example, renewables, electric vehicles, and batteries. All of the discussion and debate seemed to be surrounding the question, “When will there be an inflection point?”
We looked at transportation from an energy lens. We asked ourselves if there were segments within urban transportation where we could implement a truly sustainable mobility solution not powered by hydrocarbons; this would not only be cheaper and cleaner, but also financially viable.
It matters to us because everybody seemed to be waiting for someone to do something about it. Now, all that matters to us is implementing tomorrow’s transportation, today.
Why is your solution unique?
We built the foundation of our service on the realization that nobody would buy our service just because it was “green.” As a consequence, the business wouldn’t scale. So we predicated our solution on addressing the key buyer values and issues prevalent with the current incumbents of cost efficiency, assurance and transparency.
Our beachhead market isn’t as sexy as the curb-side business (i.e. B2C options such as Uber, Ola, and Grab), but the total addressable market is as big as the B2C market. Moreover, it lends itself beautifully to the implementation of our mission: “Tomorrow’s Transportation. Today.” This means clean, shared, distributed and connected.
Our implementation of unlimited mileage (breaking the proportionality of price and distance), the driver proposition, energy provisioning, our connected car implementation and the EV specific fleet management system are all elements that provide a comprehensive solution to address the issues with the incumbents.
Fundamentally, we sell “productivity” using an electric vehicle fleet.
What has been your company’s proudest moment to date?
Our proudest moment remains the testimonials of our drivers, and more importantly, those of their families. Our proposition for them ensures that they have a life and a livelihood, ensuring financial inclusion and career progression (something the white-collared work force often takes for granted). To have made a difference in the lives of 550 families gives us the highest sense of pride and achievement as an organization. When clients say “thank you,” that is endearing. Ultimately, we hope our work contributes to a more equitable and responsible society.