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Mukesh Ambani ups bet on battery-swapping under agreement with Mahindra

RIL's second agreement to explore battery swapping in six months; may lead to standardisation of battery technology with OEM and fueling operator joining hands

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Reliance Industries | Mahindra Group | Electric Vehicles

Twesh Mishra  |  New Delhi 

Jio-bp and Mahindra Group sign MoU for EV and low-carbon solutions

Reliance BP Mobility (RBML), the fuel retailing and battery charging focused arm of Mukesh Ambani-led (RIL), and have forged a non-binding agreement for exploring creation of Electric Vehicle (EV) products and services.

According to sector watchers, such agreements are not novel in the nascent EV and battery technologies space, but it gains significance due to the scale of the two corporate behemoths involved. The partnership is also important because it may lead to standardisation of battery technology with Mahindra, an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), and RBML, a fuel retail, EV charging, and battery swapping operator joining hands.

With Mahindra, Jio-bp will also be identifying synergies in low-carbon and conventional fuels. A RIL official said that the agreement is for a broad collaboration which could extend to collaboration with any company.

This is the first agreement where an OEM has partnered with a fuel retailer for developing electric vehicle technology. The lack of standardised batteries, across the still developing electric vehicle ecosystem, is viewed as a hindrance towards wider adoption of swapping technology. This was the issue with EVs that rely on charging infrastructure due to the multiplicity of charging standards.

“The partnership aims at accelerating EV adoption in India with high-performance and swappable batteries that will help in dispelling range anxiety. The solutions would afford great convenience to customers who can ideally bring in a depleted battery to their nearest swapping station and within minutes move on with fully charged batteries by paying a nominal fee,” a RIL statement said.

RBML’s fuel retailing outlets operate under the brand name Jio-bp. It is an Indian fuels and mobility joint venture between RIL and UK’s bp. It aims to expand its fuel retailing network to 5,500 over the next five years, up from the existing network of around 1419 pumps.

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Number wise, RBML is currently one of the smaller players in India’s fuel retailing ecosystem. Comparably, public sector undertaking (PSU) fuel retailers commanded 69,333 outlets. But despite the smaller footprint, RIL-bp ends up cornering well over 10 per cent of the entire fuel sales in the country. This is largely due to the high volume sale locations, on highways, that the RIL-bp fuel pumps corner.

In August, it had placed bets on EV battery swapping with Swiggy and begun trials to increase the deployment of EVs in the food delivery platforms delivery fleet. Later in September, Jio-bp had announced a partnership with BluSmart, India's first and largest all-electric ride-hailing platform.

“The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) also covers evaluating charging solutions by Jio-bp for Mahindra vehicles including electric 3 and 4 wheelers, quadricycles and e-SCV (Small Commercial Vehicles – sub 4 ton). This would include captive fleets and last-mile mobility vehicles of Mahindra Group,” the RIL statement added.

According to RIL, and its channel partner locations will be evaluated for setting up of Jio-bp Mobility Stations and EV charging and swapping points apart from utilising existing Jio-bp stations.

Additionally, business models like Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and Battery as a Service (BaaS) will be explored wherein Jio-bp could provide charging solutions to vehicles made by Mahindra Group, RIL added.

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First Published: Wed, December 08 2021. 19:03 IST
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