Transporting goods and products to and from the length and breadth of India, as well as the world over, is essential to keep trade and commerce moving. Enabling a shift from logistics traditionally dependent on fossil-fuel driven vehicles, transforming the industry to embrace greener, more sustainable solutions are alternative fuel vehicles. Gati, one of India’s premier express distribution companies, has emerged a frontrunner in this space, with its energy efficient initiatives and target to convert its entire pick-up and delivery fleet to alternative fuel by 2025.
Within the broader category of alternative fuel vehicles, Electric Vehicles (EV), Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) powered by hydrogen, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), and any other alternate model which may be introduced, can be looked at.
Another option that is increasingly being considered is ‘Flex Fuel Technology’ which comprises of vehicles whose internal combustion engines (ICE) can run on traditional fuel like petrol as well as flexible fuel (flex fuel) which is a combination of petrol and methanol or ethanol.
Making the choice
An EV is fueled by electricity stored in a battery, which is recharged by plugging the vehicle into a charging station. In an FCV, hydrogen gas is stored in onboard tanks, and in the fuel cell stacks, hydrogen combines with oxygen in the air to produce an electrochemical reaction. This generates electricity, which powers an electric motor which runs the vehicle. In a flex fuel vehicle, the fuel system and engine are almost the same as that of ICE vehicles, with only a few modifications.
With advancements in their technology and batteries, EVs are more widespread than FCVs and their adoption is increasing, owing to improved performance, reduction in noise and pollution, feasibility and viability for commercial use.
The EV boom in India
Between 2022-2027, the EV industry in India is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 47% and touch USD 16 billion. This growth is likely to be driven by the rising demand for e-commerce, as well as D2C deliveries.
In September 2023, a total of 1,27,793 EVs were registered, slightly surpassing August’s 1,26,947 as per the Vahan portal. Electric two-wheelers sales rose from 62,690 units in August to 63,746 units in September, followed by three-wheeler passengers in L3 and L5 categories at 46,686 and 5,651 respectively. Electric three-wheeler cargo had 3037 (L3) and 2070 (L5) registrations. Electric four-wheelers recorded 6047 registrations, while electric buses saw 254, up from August’s 250*.
Gati moves ahead with speed to implement alternative fuel vehicles
At Gati, with our objective of going green for all our first and last mile deliveries by 2025, we have already taken a number of key steps. At our state-of-the-art STCs, we are exploring the use of EVs to make our operations energy efficient, reduce dwell times, and enable seamless, timely deliveries.
We made our fleet greener with more than 100 EVs in the first phase, and further, backed by our MoU with Gentari, a clean energy solutions provider, we added another 500 alternate fuel vehicles.
We have collaborated with one of our top customers to exclusively provide alternative fuel CNG powered vehicles for pick-ups from their distribution centers. We have also partnered with a global furniture retailer to deploy three-wheeler electric cargo vehicles at their store, and plan to on-board larger capacity four-wheeler ones in future.
In alignment with Allcargo Group’s overall objective of being carbon neutral by 2040, we look ahead to prioritizing road freight partners who are using or have set plans to use greener fuels including, but not limited to green or blue ammonia, hydrogen fuel, biofuels, and so on, for business operations.
Considering that advanced analytics technology could help identify and optimize routes in real time, in turn, helping us reduce the total fuel consumed and thereby total emissions as well, we have initiated transformative digitalization to implement a future-ready, agile, cloud-based enterprise software.
Going the extra mile for green
India’s thrust on alternate fuel vehicles will not only play a role in making the logistics sector more sustainable, but also enhance overall efficiency of supply chains and bring down logistics costs.
If India is to create a competitive advantage globally, and emerge a leader in green logistics and mobility, greening the first and last mile is definitely a great place to start!
— Shrikant Nikam is Vice President – Operations at Gati Express and Supply Chain Pvt. Ltd. (GESCPL)