BluSmart, India’s Competitor to Uber, Boosts Electric Vehicle Charging Network with $25 Million Funding

BluSmart, an innovative Indian ride-hailing company specializing in electric vehicles, is intensifying efforts to expand its charging infrastructure in India’s budding EV market. The company, based in Gurugram, recently secured a $25 million investment from the Swiss impact fund ResponsAbility. This funding, achieved through a combination of equity dilution and debt, follows closely on the heels of two recent rights issues totaling $66 million. The infusion of capital aims to increase the number of charging stations from 35 to approximately 95-100 in the coming months.

Established in December 2019, BluSmart, the brand under which LuSmart operates, boasts a fleet of 6,000 EVs, including 180 ZS SUVs from MG Motor and Tata Tigor sedans. The fleet is expected to expand to 10,000 vehicles by the end of the year. However, such expansion is contingent on bolstering the existing EV charging facilities. BluSmart also plans to generate additional revenue by opening its charging hubs to the public, aligning with India’s goal to electrify 30% of all four-wheelers by 2030.

Anmol Jaggi, co-founder of BluSmart, in an interview with TechCrunch, discussed the company’s strategy to expand its charging infrastructure. Jaggi, along with his brother Puneet Jaggi and co-founder Punit Goyal, launched BluSmart to challenge the dominance of Uber and Ola. Despite starting operations just before the COVID-19 lockdown, BluSmart managed to gain traction by offering premium services post-lockdown and expanding its operations to Bengaluru and introducing intercity rides.

BluSmart differentiates itself from Uber and Ola by offering pre-scheduled EV rides only, a model that has seen growing adoption. Between 2022 and 2023, the company experienced a 600% increase in gross merchandise value and a significant growth in monthly active users. BluSmart has attracted investments totaling $400 million, including equity and debt, and has backers like BP Ventures and Mayfield India Fund.

In November, BluSmart introduced BluElite, a loyalty program offering additional benefits to subscribers. Despite the challenging market conditions and a capital-intensive business model, the company announced plans to raise $250 million in 2019, but this goal remains unfulfilled. Recently, BluSmart introduced crowdfunding initiatives and “rush-hour” pricing, deviating from its initial stance against surge pricing, which has drawn criticism.

In a comprehensive interview with TechCrunch, Jaggi and BluSmart’s Chief Business Officer Tushar Garg, who also heads the charging business BluCharge, detailed their plans for using the new funds and the challenges ahead. They aim to expand their current fleet and charging infrastructure significantly, while also navigating the complex landscape of EV ride-hailing services. Despite not yet achieving a positive unit economics, BluSmart is optimistic about its growth and future prospects in the EV market.