Online travel aggregator Ixigo has invested Rs 26 crore (around $3.1 million) in Bengaluru-based electric bus startup FreshBus for the launch of inter-city electric bus services across India.
The EV company, which will commence its services simultaneously from Hyderabad and Bengaluru with the launch of 24 electric buses, plans to scale up its operations to over 1,000 buses pan-India in the next 2-3 years. It will likely announce its first operational routes in March 2023.
It claims that it will offer an alternative for convenient, affordable, and environment-friendly inter-city bus travel in India. The bus platform will run on a full-stack business model to deliver a wide range of services including noise-free air-conditioned cabin, comfortable seating, uniformed and friendly crew, IOT-enabled real-time air-quality and temperature monitoring, security CCTVs, personal charging docks, Wi-Fi, real-time tracking, alcohol checks and more, the company said in a release.
FreshBus is founded by Sudhakar Reddy Chirra, who previously built the aggregator Abhibus. The company was acquired by ixigo in August 2021 in a cash and stock business transfer agreement. Chirra has over 15 years of experience in the bus domain and in managing technology-led businesses.
FreshBus aims to improve quality and customer experience to make bus travel a hassle-free experience for all while offering a more environment-friendly and affordable alternative to existing inter-city public transport currently dominated by fossil-fuel buses, said Chirra, founder and chief executive officer, FreshBus.
“A single FreshBus will save over 90,000 litres of diesel and reduce close to 200 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission in one year. That is equivalent to the effect of almost 10,000 trees on the environment," Chirra claimed.
“There are nearly 100,000 inter-city buses operating in the country, the majority of which are diesel based and are a major source of urban air pollution…FreshBus buses will be able to cover up to 375 km on a single charge with zero emissions, enabling greener, affordable and safer rides,” Ixigo’s cof-ounders Aloke Bajpai and Rajnish Kumar said in a joint statement.
Due to the rising EV demand and the need to cut carbon emissions, investments in Indian EV startups have increased in recent years. The use of EVs has been encouraged by the federal and state governments, which has sped up the industry's expansion.
VC and PE firms, and even traditional automakers have invested millions of dollars into EV startups creating new technology and business models. These startups are developing a range of products, including infrastructure for charging and batteries.
For instance, Simple Energy recently raised over $20 million in a bridge funding round that saw participation from high-net-worth individuals such as Thyrocare Technologies’ founder Arokiaswamy Velumani, Gokaldas Group’s Ashwin Hinduja, Nash Industries’ owners Sanjay and Sandeep Wadhawa, and Purple Moon Ventures, among others.
Also, EV-as-a-service provider Zypp Electric raised Series B funding of $25 million (around Rs 206 crore) led by battery swapping systems provider Gogoro. Last month, EV infrastructure startup ElectricPe bagged $5 million from Green Frontier Capital, Blume Ventures, and Micelio Fund.