Into the Premium Inter-city bus segment, NueGo wants to become National player. Prateek Pardeshi looks at the on-road services. 

Long-distance coaches have been evolving for years now. From those deluxe editions of 2×2 video coaches to the Volvo’s and Scania’s of the world. With an introduction to these, many STUs and fleet operators proudly own them resulting in fortune. With the EV wave in the last few years, many OEMs such as NueGo, Olectra and JBM to name a few, are leading the clan. One of the highlights which makes NueGo apart is the intercity travel on an EV bus for spanning distances which are above 250 km. While the company also boasts of intra-city travel tying up with multiple State Transport Undertakings (STUs). The company boasts of a completely new customer service, similar to a flight experience by introducing lounge access of their own. Having more than 80 buses plying pan India, the company also boasts of intracity travel tying up with multiple State Transport Undertakings (STUs). Safety is paramount and the company has gone all guns, from driver safety to the customer reaching on time. Additionally, the company also has a strong focus on the green environment and has zero-tail pipe emission coaches, reducing the carbon footprint. The company ought to develop the complete ecosystem required for an EV to sustain from charging depots to developing an end-to-end infrastructure. NueGo is currently the only company to offer higher-capacity EV chargers in the range of 180-240kW. Devndra Chawla, Chief Executive Officer, who is heading GreenCell Mobility said,“In cars, there’s an Uber, Ola, which is national, or if you take flights, Indigo, Vistara, they’re national. But in the bus segment, there’s no national brand. We are aiming to become a national player.” 

GreenCell EV Pvt. Ltd. erstwhile known as Mytrah Mobility Pvt. Ltd. was acquired by GreenCell Mobility. GreenCell Mobility are a part of Eversource Capital and Light Source BP, it is a 50-50 Joint Venture (JV). There are marquee investors like National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), DFID – Department of International Development (GoUK), CDC Group (UK), Triodos Emerging Markets Renewable Energy Fund, British Petroleum to name a few. The fund is only investing in green companies. So, we are one of the companies. There are other companies like Lithium, EverEnviro but the whole fund is infused into the green claimed Devndra.


How is NueGo different?

Typically we have two options to book a bus from A location to B for a long-distance coach. One option is to book with a government fleet or STUs such as MSRTC or KSRTC and another option is to rely on private fleet operators such as VRL or SRS to name a few. NueGo has come up with an innovative idea of introducing an electric bus which has zero tailpipe emissions and introducing a flight-alike customer experience. A lounge access where their customers can enjoy the benefit of relaxing, a cafe, and a restroom making their stay comfortable and luxurious at the same time. The biggest highlight would be, all these value-added services are charged at the same premium as that of a  mere bus ticket. No extra premium as of today. Also, Devndra adds, “We don’t want people to stand on the road waiting for our bus. A safe and relaxed waiting area is our priority.” 


The Coach

The travel partner is a long 12-meter luxury coach, accommodating a maximum capacity of 45 seats. The company claims to offer one of the highest legroom spaces available in the market. The coach is a completely new design custom-built for NueGo built by Veera Vahana & Azad NueGo Coach Manufacturing bodybuilders to name a few. A dedicated team works on the vehicle design and then sources it from bodybuilders. The battery is imported as many other OEMs in the EV space. The charging infra however is claimed to be one of the first to offer high-power chargers sourced from Star Charge company. 

Safety is paramount in the commercial vehicle fleet business, and NueGo has left almost no stone unturned. For the driver, or hosts as they call it, a dedicated breathe analyser is a compulsory test which he/she needs to undergo before a trip and this test happens in front of the passengers. An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) was developed in 1969. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued the first official safety standard involving IIDs in the early 1980s. California was the first state to pass legislation allowing the use of interlock devices. Since then, many OEMs such as Volvo, and Scania in the UN have been following this practice as a mandate. Today introducing this technology in buses in India is a great leap ahead by NueGo. Devndra recalls “When I was doing a sales job in the early days, I noticed, it is very different when you drive yourself, and when you leave it for someone else to drive it. You’re always on watch whether he is overtaking properly, and things so on. Removing this anxiety itself will change the customer experience.” Additionally, the bus comes with a GPS link for customers and their relatives who can check their real time location. A  CCTV running at all times for safety, a Driver drowsiness alert system and so on. 


Inter-city travel

Currently, the company is working on various routes where its buses can ply and they can expand their operations. The buses are accessible in more than  ten cities pan India. They have maximum operations in Madhya Pradesh, Devndra claimed, if we can crack Madhya Pradesh then you can make this work anywhere. So we wanted to make sure that we get it right there. The longest route plying on at the moment is Hyderabad – Vijayawada approx 300km. The company has plans to double the travel distance say around 700-800km in a day which is currently capped at around 250 km on average. The addition of depots where charging infra will develop is under consideration. In total we have 26 depots, we have one in Kashmiri Gate, Delhi, and we have one in Rk. Ashram, one in Indore, and the others are under construction shared Devndra.


Intra-city travel 

The STUs are now targeting many EV players too, just like NueGo many STUs opted for Olectra and JBM buses. NueGo has around 700 buses running and by the end of this year, they aim to have 1600, including 570 buses from Delhi, Baroda, MSRTC Pune. They plan to continue to participate in tenders and keep increasing our presence. Also, the bus EV powertrain changes in such operations, inter-city and intra-city buses are different. In India, typically intracity operations will cover 150-250 km, whereas in inter-city it will be 400-700 km. For both applications the bus architecture is different. Recently MSRTC also introduced the concept of e-shivering, ‘E-Shivneri’  is basically focused on promoting EVs.


Upcoming Decades

The company has completed three years of existence, and the firm has invested Rs.1500 cr+ in its assets. The drive for a sustainable future is a priority. Today on a monthly basis the company aims to roll out 30-35 buses, in the upcoming year FY24, the company aims to cross the mark of 500 buses. In the future, the company also plans to bring new innovations ahead, such as the concept of hybrid buses, which will be a combination of sleeper and seater buses. The aim to promote e-mobility as a national player in the EV coach space is the vision ahead. In the future, even two-three wheeler space can be tapped claims Devndra. Recently, they were honoured with the Asia Book of Records and India Book of Records certifications and citations for the successful launch of First Ever All-Woman Electric Intercity Bus. Speaking on the occasion,  Devndra said, “This achievement reinforces our mission to create a more inclusive and sustainable transportation ecosystem. At NueGo, we believe that innovation and gender equality go hand in hand, and we are committed to driving positive change through in the mass mobility ecosystem.”

NueGo is a leading premium electric bus brand, to make things more economical, a German-based company Flix has revealed their plans to start operations in India. Flix intends to maintain its strong growth trajectory in order to deliver on its long-term ambition, with the next milestone being the introduction of FlixBus operations in India in 2024. Flix sees enormous opportunities for growth in this region, delivering inexpensive, sustainable, and safe long-distance bus services, with buses representing the backbone of transport in India and a market size larger than Europe, Turkey, and North America combined. Commenting on the reveal plans, André Schwämmlein, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Flix, said, “India is committed to alternative drives and is accelerating towards a future where collective transport is electric. This gives the opportunity for Flix to be a key local player in the development of the sustainable travel industry, setting up infrastructure and further development in this area.  

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