NEW DELHI, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Uber Technologies said on Monday it will introduce electric vehicles (EVs) in India for ride-sharing, its first move to adopt clean cars amid an Indian government push for greater electrification of public transport and shared mobility.
With plans to introduce 25,000 EVs over three years, Uber is stepping up competition with local rival BluSmart, an electric mobility start-up backed by BP's venture fund, which has taken the lead in India's electric taxi space.
Uber's fleet partners will buy the EVs from Tata Motors, India's biggest electric carmaker, Prabhjeet Singh, president, Uber India and South Asia, said during a phone interview on Monday.
"When you're looking at great transitions, you also don't want to rush into those without necessarily fully appreciating the economics and trade-offs," Singh told Reuters.
Tata Motors also sells EVs to BluSmart.
For electric ride-hailing to take off, Singh said multiple factors need to come together. Automakers need to build affordable vehicles with a long range, the financing ecosystem needs to mature and charging infrastructure has to be widespread.
"We believe we are beginning to see early signs of that coming together," Singh said, adding that this is the largest deal for EVs by a ride-sharing company.
Even with 25,000 EVs, electric cars will still be a fraction of Uber's current overall active fleet of 300,000 vehicles in India, according to Singh.
Uber has set a 2040 target for 100% of its rides to be in zero-emission vehicles, public transport or with micro-mobility, including in India.
The Softbank Group-backed ride-hailing giant is in "active" talks with other carmakers, charging companies, fleet operators and financiers for its EV push, Singh added.
Tata rival Mahindra & Mahindra is the only other Indian automaker to build electric cars locally. China's BYD and SAIC's MG Motor also sell imported EVs in India.
"We are going to be a big catalyst in accelerating the (EV) ecosystem," Singh said.
Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Susan Fenton