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Exclusive: Falcon Edge-backed mobility startup Bounce in talks to raise $50 mn for EV push

Exclusive: Falcon Edge-backed mobility startup Bounce in talks to raise $50 mn for EV push
Vivekananda Hallekere, co-founder and chief executive of scooter-sharing platform Bounce

Wickedride Adventure Services Pvt Ltd, the Bengaluru-based company that operates dockless urban mobility platform Bounce, is lining up a big push into the electric vehicles (EV) market. The company’s EV subsidiary, Zuink Smart Mobility Solutions Pvt Ltd, is in talks to raise up to $50 million (Rs 345 crore at current rates), two people privy to the development told TechCircle on the condition on anonymity. 

Zuink is already on the verge of closing commitments for $10-15 million (Rs 69-Rs 103 crore at current rates) from investors, one of the two persons mentioned above said. If Wickedride’s existing investors also participate, the round size could end up touching the $50 million mark, the second person said. 

Existing investors in Wickedride include Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s venture capital firm B Capital, New York-based hedge fund Falcon Edge Capital, The India and US arms of venture capital firm Accel, Chiratae Ventures, Maverick Ventures, Omidyar Network India, Sequoia Capital India, Qualcomm Ventures and Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal.

A detailed email questionnaire sent to Vivekanand Hallekere, co-founder and CEO of Bounce, seeking more information did not elicit responses at the time of filing this report.

Zuink

Zuink has been operating as a 25-member stealth mode arm over the last five-six months, one of the people mentioned earlier said.

As per regulatory filings viewed by TechCircle, Zuink was incorporated in September 2018 with a minimum paid up capital of Rs 1 lakh.

While the articles and objects of the company indicate that it will address problems related to parking in cities, the second of the two people mentioned earlier said that Zuink wants to foray into EV charging infrastructure initially.

“Bounce wants to get a slice of the EV infrastructure distribution pie  by getting into the battery swapping infrastructure space, which is a component of the EV play," the person said. "While there have been positive developments around the EV scenario, scale was a challenge until now. When companies like Ola and Bounce commit themselves to that space, it is bound to send positive signals in that regard.”

Bounce is also developing a EV scooter prototype which is around 6-8 months away from a potential commercial launch. The EV scooter will become part of the company’s dockless rental sharing fleet, and the company has no plans to commercialise and sell it to consumers for the time being.

“While Bounce is developing  its own prototype of an EV scooter, it is also in talks with other OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) like Ather, Mahindra and Hero Motorcycles to strike a potential partnership,” the second person mentioned above said.

The development comes less than a month after Bounce closed a $72 million Series-C round for its dockless scooter- and cycle-sharing verticals, which is currently its primary offering.

Recent developments around EVs

The budget for 2019-20 presented last week by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a few initiatives that has come as a shot in the arm for the sector.

Some of the announcements include plan to reduce goods and services tax (GST) on EVs, Rs 10,000 crore allocation for the fast adoption and manufacturing of electric vehicles through charging infrastructures and other appropriate incentives and income tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on interest paid on loans taken to buy electric vehicles.

Earlier in the month, Ola Electric Mobility , the EV arm of cab hailing major Ola,  raised $250 million (Rs 1,725.04 crore when reported ) from SoftBank. It primarily focuses on deploying charging and battery-swapping networks for the commercial electric vehicles segment. 

However, it is heading towards deploying electric vehicles and charging solutions, including battery swapping stations, electric two-wheeler and three-wheeler services.

One of the persons mentioned above said that Ola has already developed an electric auto, which is likely to be announced and launched soon.

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