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Earlier this year, EVNext prepared an extensive database of companies in the Indian EV ecosystem – both startups and established companies. 

We have identified close to 200 startups, and about 100 companies from the established corporates that are having a skin in the electric vehicle game. 

And you have read a lot about startups in mainstream newspapers, possibly far more than about established companies – and here’s another. That’s because startups are attractive, they gave a zing and naturally everyone wants to know more about them than they would about a large, established firm.

EV Next’s analysis of Indian EV startups however presents a rather mixed picture.

While startups definitely have the zing in them, the flexibility, the nimbleness and the aggression that escape large firms, these qualities alone cannot contribute to startup success in all fields. In domains such as e-commerce and software, where individual capabilities and skills matter a lot more for success than the ecosystem characteristics overall, startups have a distinct advantage over their conventional competitors. But domains such as electric vehicles are quite different. Success in these domains depend significantly on the an incumbent ecosystem, and such an incumbent ecosystem will naturally favour incumbents – and there are very large and powerful incumbents in the Indian auto and auto ancillary business.

The EV space is more complicated with significant barriers to success, and with a completely different profile and strengths that incumbent companies bring.

For all the above reasons, startups will need to have a strong collaboration strategy to succeed in the EV space. Such a strategy could be a win-win for both startups and the large firms – the large firms are able to tap into the innovative and risk-taking mindset and the nimbleness of the startups, while the startups are able to quickly scale and commercialize using the established network and ecosystem that had been built by the large players over many decades.