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India’s Shoonya campaign aims to boost electric last-mile deliveries

NITI Aayog, the Government of India’s official think tank, with support from RMI and RMI India, has launched a campaign to transform last-mile deliveries and eliminate pollution through consumer engagement. Based on the Sanskrit word for zero, Shoonya will create a verification and branding system for electric delivery vehicles and the packages they deliver.

This campaign will allow companies that offer electric deliveries a clear and visible way to differentiate zero-emissions deliveries, as e-commerce explodes in India and globally on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Urban delivery vehicles account for 10% of freight-transportation-related CO2 emissions in India, and these emissions are expected to more than double over the next decade.

With no tailpipe emissions, EVs can contribute immensely to improved air quality, especially in Indian cities where pollution significantly lowers life expectancies. Even when electricity sector emissions are included, pollution from EVs are still less than gas-powered vehicles, and will only get cleaner as the grid decarbonizes.

While the campaign officially kicks off today, it will be rolled out at scale during the Indian holiday of Diwali in early November, a festival season that—like the Christmas season in the United States—creates a delivery peak. This campaign in urban delivery in India can help kick-start mass adoption of EVs in other sectors as well, by helping to scale EV manufacturing supply chains, the partners said.

The campaign has already attracted many of India’s transportation industry heavyweights, including e-commerce companies, fleet aggregators, vehicle manufacturers, and logistics companies.

Close to 30 companies including Mahindra Electric, Tata Motors, Zomato, Sun Mobility, Lightening Logistics, Big Basket, Bluedart, Swiggy, and Hero Electric, attended the kick-off meeting to show their support for the campaign. Additional industry players will also be invited to join the initiative.

Under Shoonya, electric delivery vehicles and the packages they carry will be eligible for the Shoonya mark. This brand will be earned through a verification process that consumers can trust and will allow them to be part of the evolution of the transportation sector without buying an EV. An online tracking platform will share the campaign’s impact through data such as vehicle kilometers electrified, carbon savings, criteria pollutant savings, and other benefits from clean delivery vehicles.

We will promote awareness about health, environmental and economic benefits of electric vehicles through the Shoonya campaign. I am confident that our dynamic private sector will rise to the challenge of making Shoonya a great success.

—Amitabh Kant, the CEO of NITI Aayog

Competitive economics and available technology support the full electrification of India’s urban delivery fleets on an accelerated timeline, which will create tailwinds for other market segments to follow. Shoonya is already engaging global e-commerce companies and has the potential to inspire similar campaigns well beyond India.

—RMI Managing Director Clay Stranger


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