The automobile industry the world over is slowly creeping back to normalcy as countries get used to the ‘new normal’ and perhaps some would push ahead with their plans to buy a new car, which would also translate to a safety measure against the spread of the coronavirus outbreak (avoiding public transport). An opinion floats that the focus of electric mobility could gain momentum in the post-COVID era. But before we get there, a sturdy network of charging stations is crucial if we want to electrify our four-wheelers.
There are several challenges to installing charging stations in public spaces and homes. We spoke with EVI Technologies to learn about how can these be overcome. We also discuss India’s future as an EV manufacturing hub and is Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s claim on the subject a viable ambition and what will it take for India to be self-reliant in EV manufacturing. In conversation: Rupesh Kumar, CEO, EVI Technologies.
1) A brief background on EVI Technologies Pvt Ltd and its ventures
EVI Technologies Private Limited (EVIT) is India’s fastest growing EV charging solutions Infrastructure Company based in New Delhi. The company was founded in 2017 and incubated by Electropreneur Park (funded & Supported by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), GoI). We offer end to end E-mobility solutions of highest quality standards with sustainable, reliable and consistent performance. We provide both EV AC (slow) and DC (fast) chargers that work through the user authentication process via a mobile app on the user/operator side.
Our products are designed & developed by integrating efficient and robust power technologies with advanced AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (machine learning) based algorithm thus enabling a perfect product to cater to the market. EV charging solutions are complete indigenous development of EVIT team with flexibility and compatibility as per market demand and complying with global standards.
2) Is the presence of a denser charging network the solution to range anxiety? What are the challenges in setting up chargers in individual homes or societies?
Range anxiety is a fear that is very evident amongst EV consumers and while dense charging network leads to less waiting time for an EV driver and eases the concern of driving EVs, for dense networks to work we have to overcome a lot of challenges. The primary problem we face is the availability of land for easy access of EV chargers to drivers especially commercial vehicles.
Secondly, in metro cities, families living in societies or apartment complexes will face a challenge of charging at their homes due to common meter connection of basements or ground floors with other neighbours but we believe all these are transitional challenges and adoption of EVs is inevitable, only proper policy and decision making will make it in a faster way.
3) Does battery life deteriorate quicker under fast charging?
Yes, Lithium Battery is highly sensitive to temperature and operating conditions, so its charging and discharging rates care with temperature and with fast charging lead to a reduction in the life cycle of Lithium Batteries.
4) Is lithium-ion the only way forward for EV batteries? Are there any other viable battery types like sodium-ion that can be developed and ease the pressure on the import of lithium-ion cells?
We are living in a world which is very dynamic, nothing is permanent. We are growing and evolving constantly with newer and more advanced technologies coming up every other day. With so many companies trying to find the most sustainable power and charging solution we can be sure that the world will definitely see an alternative battery charging solution soon. We believe in the next few years we will get a lot of other chemistries in this E-Mobility sector, batteries like graphene batteries, aluminium with water batteries, etc are being developed across the world.
In India, the government aims to make the country a hundred percent EV nation, while the achievability of this target is questionable the main idea is to reduce oil imports in the country. We don’t want to reduce oil imports just to increase lithium imports. Our country is rich in many mineral ores and we believe that we can find a viable charging solution from the ample resources available in our country within the next few years.
5) The automobile industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, but even so, an opinion floats that EVs will catch on in the post-COVID era due to their environmental benefits. Do you agree?
The pandemic has shaken every industry across the board, the EV industry is no exception but talks about environmental deterioration and climate change has been a hot topic well before the pandemic. The pandemic has shown people a considerable change in air quality during the lockdown period due to reduced emissions and air pollution. This could be our silver lining. The lockdown has increased awareness of the importance of reducing carbon emissions and may push people to choose a more environmentally friendly as well as sustainable technology once the situation settles down. We believe that after the situation becomes normal people will start spending on environment-friendly technologies including EVs but still we have to see what option as industry players we are giving to our customers.
Also considering the current India-China tussle, and India’s dependency on China for different components and other parts, partnerships among the industry players to create and sell complete eco-system to end customers can be a major milestone in selling the EV products with Made in India tag.
6) Union Minister Nitin Gadkari recently stated that India can be a global EV manufacturing hub within the next five years. Would you agree, considering that India does not manufacture battery cells and the Indian automobile industry is at present substantially dependent on China for component imports?
We would like to believe it is achievable within 5 years however this is only possible if we focus on innovation, particularly in battery technology.
As of now, the battery cells (Li) are sourced from China and more than 70% of the market depends on China for the use of batteries in EV segment.
EV manufacturing industry needs these three primary things in place before we can call India a manufacturing hub
o Policy for EV manufacturing and allied components like batteries, chargers etc: Not only batteries but EV allied components must be in-house only then can we achieve this goal. There are other major components in EVs like Motor, controller, driver and other mechanical parts which is already in place in terms of in-house manufacturing due to ICE Vehicles and home appliances manufacturing hub in India, there may be a need to upgrade at some extent as per EV standards.
o Raw material availability: Raw material for batteries, semiconductor and other electronic items is very less in India. Although, due to current government initiatives the electronic items like TVs, Mobiles, PCs are now assembled in India but raw material availability to be managed at a very large scale to cope up with the demand and supply.
o Push for 100% made in India purchase: With all the efforts, supply won’t be achieved unless we push full made in India purchase at least in the public sector. As of now, the public sector is the only largest buyer in the EV industry in India and to encourage the EV industry, the government should think about the revision of public purchase policy for the entire manufacturing industry.
7) What are EVI Technologies’ expansion plans in terms of product and reach?
We are planning to set up charging and battery swapping stations in different cities of India for electric two and three-wheeler by FY 20-21 Q2, it will come up with Lithium batteries with the fast charge or swap option. The battery will be supplied by their preferred battery OEMs only. The backbone of the system includes IT infrastructure on the server end, which will manage the complete transaction of charging and battery swapping. They have executed the process in Maharashtra, Goa, Haryana, UP (West), Delhi-NCR in phase -1 of their current plan.
R&D is the backbone of EVI Technologies, since the formation of the company we have developed 4 different chargers suitable to the Indian market and vehicles, ranging from 3.3 kW AC charger to 7.4 kW Type 2 AC charger, 15 kW DC Charger, 50 KW CCS Charger and Battery Swapping station.
8) Opinion | An EV revolution will require a structured approach to electrifying different segments of vehicles in stages. What would you say is a good approach to India’s ascent to EV adoption? How can the government help in terms of policies and incentives?
For any revolution to happen in a structured way we need to have a proper approach with both short term and long-term goals and we believe proper policy planning and eco-system offering to end customers may lead to faster and better adoption of EVs in India.
Instead of putting upfront battery cost on customers, it can be charged as fuel cost during refilling of battery and this will lead to a reduction of vehicle cost by half, price parity with ICE engine vehicles or may be lower than that.
The government should form clusters where EV should be adopted first to have more environmental impact instead of making a generic policy for the whole country. We have to trade off the environmental impact with EV price also.