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Indian Electric Vehicle Startup Sets Sights on Commercial Vehicle Market in the Middle East. 1

Planet Electric, an Indian startup specializing in commercial electric vehicle (EV) mobility, is gearing up to launch India’s first electric cargo vehicle in June 2024. The company, which focuses on material engineering innovations, has identified the Middle East as its primary export market.

Global Electrification Trends

Globally, there is a projected shift, with 20% of the internal combustion engine (ICE) cargo fleet, especially last-mile and short-haul light commercial vehicles (LCVs), expected to be fully electrified by 2030. Gagan Agrawal, co-founder of Planet Electric, believes this trend is a significant economic game-changer, particularly for regions like India, Asia-Pacific (APAC), and the Middle East and Africa (MEA).

Prototype Development and Customer Testing: Startup

Currently, Planet Electric is in the process of building the prototype of its groundbreaking electric cargo vehicle at its facility in Manesar, Gurgaon. Agrawal anticipates gaining momentum in February as they initiate customer testing. The company has garnered support from various third-party logistics (3PL) fleets and large cargo companies, showcasing a positive reception within the industry.

Material Engineering Expertise: Startup

Founded by engineers with backgrounds at the Indian Space Research Organisation, Planet Electric positions itself as a materials engineering company. Their focus is on building a vehicle that incorporates efficient electrification, lightweighting, durability, and crash resistance. Notably, the company aims to introduce a composite load-bearing chassis, a pioneering feature for logistics applications globally.

Middle East Market Expansion: Startup

Upon the commencement of production, Planet Electric has strategic plans to establish a sales funnel in the Middle East. The objective is to align the vehicle’s form factor with local customer demand. Beyond prominent countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the company eyes opportunities in North and East African blocs, where substantial investments in road infrastructure and inter-country logistics are underway.

Environmental Impact and Cost Efficiency

Planet Electric asserts that its lightweighting innovation can result in a 35-50% reduction in battery usage for each cargo vehicle. This not only contributes to lower carbon emissions compared to steel but also enhances overall efficiency. The company claims to save over 58 tonnes of CO2 per truck conservatively, and up to 100 tonnes CO2 per truck compared to ICE equivalents.

In terms of cost, the innovative approach, including battery reduction and aerodynamic drag reduction, is expected to bring down the final cost of the vehicle by 35-40%. This reduction is critical for customers and is anticipated to drive higher adoption rates of electric vehicles (EVs).

Funding Goals: Startup

Planet Electric’s next milestone involves raising $5.5 million to cover the factory build-out for 4,000 units and facilitate a robust go-to-market strategy. Agrawal hints at local fundraising initiatives, emphasizing the potential to raise more capital for expanding operations in the Middle East and establishing a large-scale factory.

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