After spreading across major Indian cities, Hail Cabs eyes global expansion

After spreading across major Indian cities, Hail Cabs eyes global expansion

It is committed to set up 20 charging hubs in Hyderabad, making clean and green transportation more accessible

Three friends from college have started Hail Cabs to serve customers with a promise of zero-cancellation, affordable & transparent pricing, no surge, trained & courteous drivers, and clean & sanitised cabs. In an exclusive interview, its Co-Founder & CEO Harshvardhan Tiwari and another Co-Founder & COO Mujeeb Khan tell The Hans India about the electric vehicle industry in India and their expansion plans ahead.

What inspired you to start Hail Cabs?

In the midst of the challenges being faced due to Covid-19 pandemic, Hail Cabs came to life. We saw not only the problems but the solutions that lay ahead - an all-electric passenger fleet committed to delivering impeccable service. But, our vision extended beyond our own fleet; we set out to build an EV infrastructure that would serve not just us but every EV owner, opening doors to a cleaner future.

It was the collective need for change, the indomitable spirit that emerges in adversity, and the shining promise of a brighter and greener world. In my journey, forged through my prior startup experience in transportation and logistics with ZORoute, which I founded during my college years in 2015 and successfully sold in 2018, I found the fuel for this transformation. Hail Cabs is more than a ride; it's a legacy of resilience, innovation, and the pursuit of a better tomorrow.

What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced in developing and operating your EV fleet?

Back when we began, there was just one budget-friendly OEM for EV taxis. The technology was still finding its feet, with challenges like low battery capacity and overheating. Navigating the myriad charging protocols - Chademo, GBT, DC001, CCS2 - was akin to mastering a new language. Trained technicians for EVs were a rarity, and we had to teach drivers the nuances of handling automatic cars and quick acceleration.

Perhaps the greatest challenge was the dearth of EV infrastructure, resulting in range anxiety. But, despite the countless obstacles that confronted us as pioneers in this industry, we persevered.

Thanks to our exceptional co-founders, Mujeeb and Arbaaz, who tenaciously tackled each challenge. They fostered partnerships with experts worldwide, and with unwavering patience and diligence, harmonised efforts to overcome every hurdle. In the end, it's a story of innovation, determination, and the power of partnership.

What are your thoughts on the future of EVs and their role in urban transportation? What is your vision for the future of urban mobility and how do you see Hail Cabs playing a role in it?

Innovations are fast-tracked, batteries become more potent, and costs plummet. In the coming five years, it's commercial passenger and transport EVs that will lead the charge, hand in hand with robust charging infrastructure. With vehicle prices on the rise and cities choking on congestion, shared transport will be the antidote. People will opt for taxis and public transit to untangle the urban gridlock, make transport more affordable, and foster sustainability.

Hail Cabs is all in for this EV revolution, not only revamping our fleet but also constructing India's largest Fast DC Charging station with 100 Super Fast Chargers ranging from 60Kw to 240 Kw near the Hyderabad airport. It's the future we envision, and we're powering it.

How are you addressing the challenges of range anxiety and charging infrastructure for the EVs?

In the electrifying world of EVs, range anxiety has been the whispered fear. It's not just about charging infrastructure; it's the unknowns of nascent EV technology, those sudden drops in charge, and the dreaded battery heating issues. With a whopping 100 chargers ranging from 60 kW to 240 kW, this hub is set to be a game-changer. From passenger EVs to electric buses, they'll all be able to refuel in a flash. We're not stopping there. HAIL Cabs is committed to constructing 20 more charging hubs across the city, making clean & green transportation accessible to all.

How are the latest technologies changing the way you do business? How do you see new technologies transforming the industry in the next 5-10 years?

The latest technologies are revolutionising the way we do business, and the future looks brighter than ever. Imagine a world where battery recycling is not just environmentally responsible but also economically efficient. Battery leasing options are making EVs more accessible, and easy access to credit through ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) schemes is opening new doors. LFP (lithium iron phosphate) batteries, with their enhanced safety and longer lifespan, are becoming the talk of the town. The pace at which EV technology is sprinting forward is nothing short of phenomenal. In the next 5-10 years, the EV industry is set to undergo a profound metamorphosis. We're not just driving vehicles; we're steering innovation and environmental responsibility. The road ahead is paved with opportunities, and we're revving up to seize them.

How have consumer mentalities changed in recent years? What are some of the key trends that are shaping consumer behaviour?

Consumer mindsets have shifted. Sustainability is now in vogue, and innovative tech solutions are the new must-haves. As EV tech evolves, people are embracing cleaner, cost-effective mobility.

The road ahead is bright. With evolving infrastructure, accessible EVs, and a growing eco-consciousness, we're entering an era of cleaner and smarter transportation.

What are some of the key challenges that startups face in today's market? How do you see the startup ecosystem evolving in future?

India's business landscape is incredibly democratic, and the government has rolled out encouraging startup policies. Support is readily available, but it's not just about luck. It's about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right team and the right resources.

Your team is your lifeline. Your vision and mission should align seamlessly with your team and investors. It's the collective power of determination, talent, and capital that propels startups forward.

India is poised for a monumental transformation in the next 5-10 years. We're on the cusp of becoming the world's largest manufacturing hub, already a major exporter of services. This is the moment to set sail.

How do you see your new charging stations impacting the EV adoption rate in Hyderabad?

Charging stations are the lifeblood of EV adoption. Imagine a Hyderabad where charging stations are conveniently placed every 10 km, dotting the highways that connect our city. This vision transforms the EV landscape, making it an enticing proposition for both individual buyers and fleet operators.

Fleet operators, in particular, find this setup irresistible due to their high vehicle utilisation. But, it's not just for businesses; the key is making EVs affordable for individual customers. When you have the infrastructure in place, and EVs are accessible and affordable, that's when the electric future truly comes alive.

What are the biggest challenges you faced in setting up new charging stations?

The road to setting up new charging stations was not without its hurdles. Land availability was the first mountain to climb. Finding the right spot, well-connected and powered up, was a challenge. And these fast chargers are power-hungry beasts, demanding a whopping 1 MW for just 20 chargers.

Then there's the matter of investment. Power, civil work, and electrical setups require deep pockets. Add to that the hefty cost of the fast chargers themselves.

It's been a journey, but we're determined to overcome these challenges. After all, powering the electric future is a path worth walking

What type of charging technology do you use in the new charging stations? How are the charging stations integrated with the grid?

At our charging stations, we're all about speed and efficiency. Our chargers are fast, and they're all CCS2 chargers, boasting a minimum of 60 kW per charger with dual guns. We're soon rolling out 240 kW chargers, liquid-cooled and centrally powered, featuring six guns. These chargers are incredibly versatile, capable of delivering the full 240 kW power if just one gun is in use. They're tailor-made for buses and high-end EVs.

In terms of power supply, we're currently drawing from the distribution companies, but our vision extends further. We're exploring open access connections, which will allow us to tap into the clean energy generated by our partner solar power plants. We're charging into the future, full speed ahead.

What are your plans for using EV automation to improve the efficiency and convenience of your charging stations? What are the biggest challenges that need to be addressed in order to achieve widespread EV automation?

All of our charging stations are monitored centrally over the cloud. The EV owner, can check charger availability, start a charging session, and make payments right from the mobile app. No fuss, no hassle. But, every story has its challenges. We need standards, like a common language for all EVs, to ensure everything runs smoothly. Plus, we're keen on security. With automation comes the need for robust cybersecurity.

And let's not forget the human touch. We're on a mission to educate and guide users, making sure everyone feels comfortable with the future of EV automation. With collaboration, innovation, and customer support, we're shaping a future where charging the EV is a seamless and delightful experience.

What are your plans to expand your service to other cities in India and beyond?

We're gearing up to spread our electric embrace to Pune, Mumbai, and Bengaluru in our next expansion move. But that's not all. We're not just thinking local; we're reaching for the stars.

We're setting our sights on a global horizon, positioning ourselves as the catalyst for EV adoption not only in India but beyond. The GCC and the world beckon, and we're ready to kickstart a journey that knows no borders.

What are the future plans for Hail Cabs?

At HAIL Cabs, our vision is crystal clear. We aim to be the driving force behind the full-stack EV ecosystem, alongside our global partners. Together, we're committed to transforming EV infra, putting more EVs on the road, and steering our cities away from pollution. The road ahead is electrifying, and we're on a mission to power a cleaner, greener world.

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