By Nivedita Bhattacharjee

Bengaluru, India, June, 28, 2019 (Reuters) – Flipkart, Walmart’s online unit in India, announced today it plans to replace nearly 40% of its current fleet of delivery vans with electric vehicles (EVs) by March 2020, as part of its efforts to cut down on its carbon footprint.

The Bengaluru-based ecommerce company said it will start with deploying 160 vans by 2019-end. Some of these EVs are already plying in the country’s capital of New Delhi.

Flipkart has amped up its focus on sustainability since its $16 billion acquisition by Walmart last year. The company has also expanded its operations at a fast pace as it competes with rival Amazon Inc in India’s online sales market.

Flipkart’s move towards electric vehicles, the first among big online firms in the country, comes as the Indian government is pushing for faster adoption of these to fight pollution.

“These efforts will help us meaningfully contribute towards electric mobility… while bringing cost efficiencies for the business. In this process, we also hope to create an ecosystem for adoption of electric mobility in India,” Amitesh Jha, senior vice-president of Ekart and Marketplace at Flipkart, said in a statement.

Ecommerce companies in India are also in talks with the government around various policies related to their operations in the country. Earlier this week, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal met with ecommerce companies, including Flipkart, to talk about compliance with new foreign investment rules, Reuters reported citing sources.

In a statement dated June 27, Flipkart said it is working with local partners to co-design concepts for EVs best suited for the growing e-commerce industry.

“We believe these small but meaningful steps in this direction will go a long way in paving the way for larger adoption of EVs in the country,” group Chief Executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy, said.

The electric last-mile delivery vehicles will help cut Flipkart’s carbon emissions by over 50%, the company added.