Goa Embraces India’s First Electric Vehicle Tourism

As Goa embraces India's first Electric Vehicle Initiatives, the tourism sector in the state witnesses a surge. Samarth Kholkar, CEO and Co-founder, explains the idea behind the initiative.

B: Live is India’s first Electric Vehicle tourism venture. Our objective is to create a scalable and profitable business by driving “sustainable and Experiential tourism on electric Vehicles. We are in the business of creating remarkable, authentic and unique experiences through sustainable mobility on electric vehicles. B: Live offers experiential tours on electric cycles for tourists who are looking for authentic and immersive experiences in Goa. This service has unique curated routes and experiences which allow the tourist to discover the hidden gems with well-qualified tourist guides. The Electric Cycles ensure the service is more inclusive allowing people of all age groups and walks of life to participate without breaking into a sweat. Electric cycles also lend the novelty factor and intrigue which will make the offering irresistible to the discerning traveler. B: Live offers curated, guided tours with a high degree of experience related to Heritage, culture, food, history, architecture. Each tour is in the form of a circuit which lasts for about 3-4 hours. B: Live is currently one of the top-rated experiences in Goa. it is #1 in Panaji and #3 in Goa among 200+ experiences. We are now launching in Puducherry, Gujarat in partnership with respective state tourism departments. We also plan to launch in Mysore, Chandigarh, Hampi, Coorg,Ooty, Lonavla, Diu, Andaman, Jaipur, Kerala by end of the year.

Every tourist location gets flooded with vehicles. The roads and infrastructure get strained due to the same. Pollution levels are also increasing rapidly in all these places. If we look at Goa, the current population is about 1.6 Mill and has a similar number of vehicles owned by locals. On an average Goa gets about 8 Mill visitors annually. This is majorly during the period of October to February which is the peak tourist season. All four major cities have reported a higher than normal pollution levels. This is true for most of the tourist towns across India. Resident population having high number of vehicles and incoming traffic of tourist vehicles adding to the pollution levels.

B: Live wants to offer and alternate and clean way to explore a location. Currently there is lack of experiential tourism options which leaves you disconnected while traveling to a destination. Consumers looking for new and immersive experiences.  Also, no solution exists which combines fitness with tourism. With a well curated tour offering an immersive experience the guests can on an electric bike See the Unseen and ensure the same in a healthy way without polluting the environment and creating a carbon footprint. Our vision is to Be a leader in the sustainable and experiential tourism space across all tourist hubs across India.

A recent report by the World Health Organization revealed that 14 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India. Road transport alone contributed to 87% of the CO2 emissions. With transition to EVs the same can be directly impacted and lowered considerably as there are no harmful emissions from EVs. EVs have globally been accepted as a cleaner form of mobility. With India’s vision to turn maximum electric by 2030 and the recent FAME II also bringing in much desired support to the industry, the roadmap looks positive. In India the highest impact would be seen in the two-wheeler and three-wheeler segment. That is where the transition needs to happen in a significant way. Today there are multiple players who are introducing EVs as a part of their standard offerings. These range from rental companies to logistics providers to last mile mobility providers.

Our vision aligns EVs and Experiential tourism. We started with Electric Cycle as the product seemed to be more apt for the proposition we had to offer. Being an EV firstly it ensures there is no pollution and no significant carbon footprint created. It also ensures that it is an effortless ride for users of all ages and physique. Giving the consumer the first-hand experience of an EV we hope that when they return to their own cities start adopting EVs for mobility. Currently the fear of battery dying out is one of the major deterrents in buying an EV. We hope the consumer gets more confident to use EVs after trying the B: Live experience. Going forward we would be introducing more form factors like E-Scooters and E-Rickshaws to enhance the experience. We will also look at rentals as another mode of usage thus helping the tourists explore in a clean and green manner.

In India, the use of public transportation is declining with only 18.1 percent people in Indian cities using public transportation for work-related travel. Smart transportation solutions can tackle these challenges by offering an integrated mechanism that is accessible, multi-modal and intelligent. These need to be mix of pedestrian walkways, Cycling lanes and shared mobility infrastructure. Implementing smart transportation would need the government, transport operators and service providers to collaborate in planning and execution. Which is the key. Usage of Smart Technologies like Remote Monitoring, Vehicle Tracking and having the right Emergency response systems in place will ensure the Smart Cities have Smart Transport Solutions. 

If we evaluate the Smart Cities, we would realise that over 50 of the 98 cities are popular tourist destinations. They have a great potential to be developed into cities which have a very defined tourist path. Out of the cities selected, B: Live already has plans to be present in at least 30 of them in the next 2 years. This will ensure that B: Live is one of the enablers in each of the cities to provide experiential travel to the cities. Also, with our corporate programs we want to ensure that maximum employee engagement programs integrate green technologies thus giving soft education on sustainability to respective employees and thus spreading the message to a wider community. We aim to be the first choice of the discerning traveller who wants to adopt a green way of exploring the locales.

80% of journeys are short distances of less than 5km amongst 140 Mill Indians who travel to work. The growing awareness about environment in the younger generation, who are going to be the highest users and buyers of vehicles in the next few years, will see a direct impact on how people travel. Shared mobility is growing leaps and bounds as the rising fuel costs are becoming quite a financial burden. Also, with cities with limited parking spaces, the last mile connectivity options are being truly explored. An efficient public transportation is always regarded as the true benchmark of a growth country and we still have a lot of ground to cover in that space. Technology will play a key role. We are seeing the adoption of the same in various areas by state agencies as well as private players. Whether it is smart parking systems or usage of intelligent route planning for public transport. An IoT driven approach will help understand the variations of traffic patterns and plan in a better way. At B: Live we plan to integrate AI, AR technologies to ensure that the experience is seamless but richer as well. This will ensure that we choose the best routes with best facilities and gather consumer insight to make the next experience even better. Despite the challenges in India of delivering electricity from renewables, when electric vehicles are charged using renewables the electric vehicle option becomes optimal for carbon reduction. Hence EVs need a strong charging infrastructure support as well. All in all, the country should talk about building a comprehensive, modern transport network that will deploy the latest technologies in electric mobility, clean rapid transit and cloud-based digital controls to ensure a truly efficient transport system.

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