Magna gets into electric mopeds and battery swapping

Magna International, the Canadian mobility technology company that builds sensor-based systems for cars like driver monitoring systems and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), is entering the micromobility market. The company invested $77 million in Yulu, an Indian shared electric moped operator, and plans to jointly launch a battery swapping service company.

Magna’s investment is part of Yulu’s $83 million Series B, in which Bajaj Auto also participated. Along with the funding, Magna will hold a seat on Yulu’s board of directors. Yulu’s latest round will help the company expand to an additional 15 cities in the next 18 months, and potentially beyond India in the future, according to Magna.

“Micromobility presents a great opportunity for additional growth for Magna, and joining forces with Yulu helps us expand our business into this rapidly growing sector,” said Matteo Del Sorbo, Magna’s executive vice president and global lead for Magna new mobility, in a statement.

Earlier this year, Magna acquired the technology, IP and assets of Optimus Ride, an autonomous shuttle company, to further beef up its ADAS offerings.

The new battery swapping entity is currently registered as “Yulu Energy,” already employs 200 staffers and is headquartered in Bangalore, according to Magna. The mobility tech giant says it will be Yulu’s exclusive battery swapping partner and will build up the infrastructure required for “millions of swaps per week.”

Magna says it intends to leverage Yulu’s strong market position and network in India to grow Yulu Energy, which the company describes as a Battery-as-a-Service (BaaS) company. The company says Yulu Energy will be similar to Taiwan’s Gogoro, which operates a growing battery swapping network that services private consumers with their own electric two-wheelers.

Yulu Energy aims to eventually serve both consumer and fleet markets, but will start with delivery fleets using Yulu’s MaaS operations, which include about 10,000 electric two-wheelers throughout Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, according to a spokesperson.

“We can clearly see a significant growth opportunity for Yulu in both the BaaS and [Mobility-as-a-Service] businesses in the next three to four years,” said Yulu’s co-founder and CEO Amit Gupta. “As the market leader in electric mobility, with a proven business model built on positive unit economics, our focus now will be to establish a robust and agile supply chain and scale-up our operations.”