Bajaj Auto backs InMobi co-founder\'s e-mobility startup Yulu
Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto (left), and Yulu's Amit Gupta

Indian motorcycle maker Bajaj Auto Ltd on Tuesday said it has invested $8 million (Rs 57.1 crore) in venture capital-backed e-mobility service provider Yulu Bikes Pvt Ltd, which was started by InMobi co-founder Amit Gupta.

This marks another instance of an established two wheeler maker in India backing startups in the e-mobility space. Bajaj Auto's rivals Hero MotoCorp and TVS Motor have invested in electric scooter startup Ather Energy Pvt. Ltd and Ultraviolette Automotive Pvt. Ltd, respectively.

Yulu will use the funds to strengthen its mobility platform and deepen its solutions for expansion, Bajaj Auto said in a stock market disclosure.

The startup, which was founded in 2017, plans to increase its fleet size to 100,000 electric two-wheelers by the end of this year. It currently has a presence in Bengaluru, New Delhi, Pune, Greater Mumbai and Bhubaneswar.

Gupta, CEO, Yulu said that the investment is a win-win for both the companies. Yulu will source electric two-wheelers from Bajaj Auto  that have been co-designed and manufactured exclusively for shared micro-mobility. The motorcycle maker will also consider facilitating the vehicle finance needs of Yulu for a large scale deployment of its micro-mobility electric vehicles.

Rajiv Bajaj, managing director of Bajaj Auto said that the efforts towards congestion reduction and pollution control will boost shared micro-mobility segment in India. Besides, the expansion of metro as a means of transport in large cities will
augment the demand for last-mile connectivity that will be filled by players like Yulu, he added.

In the past, Yulu attracted a string of angel and venture investments soon after its launch as reported by VCCircle last year. Early-stage venture capital firms Blume Ventures and 3one4 Capital are among the VC investors in the company while angel investors include Girish Mathrubootham, chief executive of cloud-based customer engagement firm Freshdesk.

India’s mobility segment has been attracting significant investor interest over and above the staggering amounts hailed by Ola over the years. The government has also been supportive of the electric mobility segment. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said in her budget speech this year that the government wanted to develop India as a manufacturing hub for electric vehicles.

The biggest transaction in the segment this year involved Ola’s electric mobility arm raising Rs 1,725 crore (around $250 million) from Japanese investor SoftBank in a Series B funding round at a valuation of around $1 billion. Ola Electric also mopped up Rs 400 crore in March from investors including New York-based Tiger Global Management and Matrix Partners.

Earlier this month, VCCircle reported that Matrix and prominent angel investors including Snapdeal co-founder Kunal Bahl have bet on a company that lets commuters hail e-rickshaws and auto rickshaws.

Another major funding deal came to light in July when electric mobility service provider SmartE said it raised around Rs 100 crore from Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co. in its Series B round.

Last month, Lithius Energy Pvt. Ltd, which operates last-mile connectivity service Loca Rides, raised funding from Fosun Group affiliate Fosun RZ Capital and Stellaris Venture Partners, among others.

In September, electric-vehicle startup Cell Propulsion, founded by two former employees of the Indian Space Research Organisation, had received funding from early-stage venture capital firm Endiya Partners.

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