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Japan’s Mitsui & Co. backs last-mile electric mobility startup SmartE
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Electric mobility service provider SmartE on Monday said it has raised around Rs 100 crore ($14.5 million) from Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co. as part of its Series B round of funding.

"In addition to the equity funding, Mitsui will bring to SmartE multiple synergies through its existing businesses in the electric vehicle domain around the world to enable the company for long-term growth," said SmartE in a statement.

Last month, Mitsui agreed to acquire a 49% stake in Marvel Solren Pvt. Ltd, a unit of Mahindra Group’s arm Mahindra Susten Pvt. Ltd, in another instance of its investment in India focused on the clean-technology space.

SmartE, which is operated by Treasure Vase Ventures Pvt. Ltd, will use the funds to expand its fleet size in Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region) and other regions in the country. The funds will also be deployed to boost its charging infrastructure network to offer both plug-in vehicle charging as well as battery-swapping solutions.

The startup, co-founded by Goldie Srivastava in 2014, has a fleet of around 1,000 electric three-wheelers in Delhi-NCR. The company is the official last-mile connectivity partner to the Delhi metro railway and has entered into agreements with various state governments to roll out its services. It also has partnerships with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Mahindra Electric and Kinetic Green, and energy solution providers like Panasonic, Exicom and Sun Mobility.

In 2017, SmartE had raised $5 million in its Series A round of funding from Singapore-based Ecotransit Investments International Pte. Ltd.

Electric vehicles 

In Modi 2.0’s first Budget, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government would provide an income-tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on the interest paid on loans taken to purchase electric vehicles as well as reduce the Customs duty on certain parts.

Sitharaman said the deduction amounts to a benefit of around Rs 2.5 lakh over the loan period. The government would also pay attention to the manufacturing of lithium ion batteries.

“We want to develop India as a manufacturing hub for electric vehicles and want to encourage the purchase of these vehicles,” Sitharaman had said.

According to the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), total electric vehicle sales in India in the year ended March 2018 grew to 56,000 from 25,000 units in the previous year, largely driven by electric two-wheeler sales. 

In March 2019, JSW Energy Ltd said it had decided not to pursue the electric vehicles business because of the higher-than-expected uncertainties associated with it.

Earlier this month, reports said that ride-hailing company Ola’s electric mobility arm had raised Rs 1,725 crore (around $250 million) from Japanese investor SoftBank in a Series B funding round, with the transaction valuing Ola Electric Mobility Pvt. Ltd at around $1 billion.

Earlier this month, Greaves Cotton Ltd acquired additional stake in electric two-wheeler maker Ampere Vehicles Pvt. Ltd.

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