Shoonya to electrify urban deliveries in India – is the world next?
The 21st century has made shopping easier than ever. With a web search and the click of a mouse, you can buy almost anything from a big screen TV to lunch. And instead of going to the store, the goods come to you. Almost invisible to the consumer, the package is delivered from the warehouse to your front door.
This change is happening all over the world, including in the second most populous country in the world: India. But these vehicles don’t just deliver goods, they also bring pollution. Delivery vehicles contribute to the NOX, PM2.5, ozone and other dangerous pollutants that take years of the lives of city dwellers in India and elsewhere, as well as CO2 which causes climate change.
In addition, the fuel consumed to deliver the packages represents a financial cost that consumers ultimately have to pay. The “last mile” of e-commerce typically accounts for more than 50% of the total logistics cost.
We can have the ease and efficiency of e-commerce without the toxic pollution from tailpipes, thanks to a new campaign by Indian government think tank NITI Aayog, RMI and RMI India. This campaign has already mobilized around 40 leading players in the sector, including e-commerce companies, food and grocery delivery companies, car manufacturers, fleet aggregators and infrastructure providers. recharge. And most importantly, it connects with consumers at the other end of the mouse click.
Inspired by the Sanskrit word for zero, the Shoonya aims to speed up the electrification of last mile deliveries by creating a special label for electric deliveries. In doing so, the Shoonya brand will educate consumers about zero-emission options and create a differentiated market for zero-emission deliveries, while helping e-commerce businesses distinguish their offerings from those of their competitors.
This in turn can speed up the electrification of delivery fleets. And if successful, this model can be replicated in other countries, including the United States.
Two-wheelers, three-wheelers and trucks
Electronic commerce is transforming the way goods and people move around the world. Between 2013 and 2017, India’s online retail market grew at an average rate of 53% per year and is expected to reach $ 150 billion by 2022. By shifting the final transport of consumer goods, this has significantly expanded fleets of delivery vehicles.
In the United States, this almost universally means trucks, like the box trucks used by UPS, Amazon, FedEx, etc. But in India, a lot of goods are transported on two and three-wheeled vehicles. These vehicles emit less greenhouse gases than trucks. But the two- and three-wheeler gasoline often have two-stroke engines, which emit more smoke, oil, carbon monoxide and particulate pollution.
This is not an easy task; Vehicle emissions are one of the main sources of air pollution in Indian cities, which takes on average 9 years out of life nearly half of the Indians. It is therefore urgent to electrify these vehicles.
Mobilize the consumer
RMI India has been working for years on the electrification of transport, both for goods and for people, through our Urban Mobility Labs. And as such, we have developed close relationships with government and industry.
But in designing Shoonya, RMI and RMI India decided to take a new approach to mobilize a new constituency – consumers – with industry. In fact, Shoonya’s strength is that it brings together the strengths of both sides of a laptop screen – consumers buying products online and businesses filling those orders are united in a common goal.
As part of this campaign, verified electric vehicles, driver uniforms and packaging will carry the Shoonya label, and a digital sticker option is also being explored. An online tracking platform will share the impact of the campaign through data such as electrified vehicle kilometers, carbon savings, pollutant saving criteria and other benefits of clean delivery vehicles.
And through this campaign, RMI, RMI India and NITI Aayog will help create a differentiated market for zero emission products. The power of this approach is demonstrated in other sectors, such as the automotive sector. In Europe, major automakers such as Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and Scania are vying to see who may be the first to make cars and trucks with zero emission steel – despite this product commanding a premium.
Ultimately, consumers and ecommerce businesses both want to be part of a better world, but what is often missing is information. The Shoonya label, backed by independent verification, provides the necessary information and security so consumers know they are getting their money’s worth.
Shoonya beyond India
Through Shoonya, e-commerce companies will gain experience in this differentiated market and may also seek to distinguish their offerings in other markets. And while the delivery market in the United States may be different in terms of vehicles used, the mechanics of the market are similar. “Shoonya is already engaging global e-commerce companies and has the potential to inspire similar campaigns far beyond India,” notes RMI Managing Director Clay Stranger.
And here, Shoonya’s origin tells its own story. While we in the West call our numbers “Arabic” numerals, these numbers – including zero – come from Indian number systems, widely used by the Persian scholar al-Khwarizmi. But in India, Shoonya is not just a mathematical concept. He talks about endless possibilities.
Shoonya started in India but has the potential to transform the world. By empowering consumers and industry, it opens up a new world of possibilities and a better future for all nations.
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