The four-wheeler segment poses the greatest hurdle to electrification in India — Omer Basith, Virtual Forest

In a conversation with Omer Basith, the Founder and CEO of Virtual Forest, and Barabie Zohar, the VP of Sales and marketing at Redler, we understand the partnership plans for India, and how the move towards cleaner emission will see innovation and challenges.

interview virtual forest
Omer Basith (L) | Barabie Zohar (R)

The push for alternate fuel vehicles in India is gaining momentum, leading to new startups manufacturing EVs, companies starting to manufacture components, and in some scenarios, businesses partnering with other firms to strengthen their portfolio or gain technical insights. One such company that is a key player in the EV space in India is Virtual Forest, a company that specialises in motor control and human interface technologies for consumer appliances, fluid movement and mobility.

Virtual Forest has announced a JV with Redler Technologies, a firm that specialises in electrical power and motion management solutions for the automotive and defence industries. To understand more about the partnership, Express Mobility spoke to Omer Basith, the Founder and CEO of Virtual Forest, and Barabie Zohar, the VP of Sales and marketing at Redler.

“Carbon, energy and money have become interchangeable. So, we may assume preventing emissions from entering the atmosphere has the same net effect as removing emissions from the atmosphere (in reality, emissions prevented have a considerably more positive impact than emission sequestered),” said Omer Basith.

A Watt saved = CO2 avoided = Rupees saved

He added, “This is the thesis behind the existence of Virtual Forest. We have identified motor control electronics for energy-efficient appliances and electric mobility as our first focus area. We have created an integrated platform, which includes state-of-art R&D (for design, testing & integration), world-class manufacturers (EMS partners), as well as leading global distributors of semiconductors, PCBs and electronic components.”

Omer, speaking about some of the crucial EV components that should be localised, said, “The first step in India’s journey to the electrification of mobility will be electric 2 wheelers and 3 wheelers. LEV applications (light electric vehicles) are the lowest hanging fruit as they do not require specialised charging infrastructure.”

He added, “Components that suit the LEV segment should be the priority for localisation, this is VF’s strategy. Our partnership with Redler will enable the localisation of motor controllers for the LEV segment. Other electronic subassemblies like BMS (battery management systems), instrument clusters and interface electronics should also be prioritised for localisation.”

Commenting on the partnership between Virtual Forest and Redler, Barabie said, “We will address this partnership as like partnering between Dr. and Robotic manufacturer – Only together they can create relevant, advanced technological solutions for the health care serological market. The technological know-how of Redler with the extensive knowledge and care of Virtual Forest about the EV market is leading to EV oriented solutions that will keep the industry making technological progress alongside ensuring cost-effectiveness.”

Looking at the number of electric vehicles currently being manufactured and the number of startups emerging in India, there is a demand for motor controllers. Omer said, “The Indian EV industry, especially for two-wheelers, seems to be at an inflexion point. Anyone paying attention to news stories about the OLA S1 and other EV launches must feel the industry shift. The current market for two and three-wheeler motor controllers is approximately 300 K units per annum, conservative estimates put the market at 6.5 million units per annum by 2025.”

And commenting about the semiconductor crisis the Indian automotive industry is facing, Barabie said, “It affects the pace of manufacturing new cars and delivery time. This challenge also leads innovative companies to make sure they are reducing the amount of the components to an efficient level while keeping technical advantages available.”

Speaking about India’s transition to electric vehicles, Omer feels that the four-wheeler segment will pose the greatest hurdle, while two and three-wheelers will be amongst the first to transition and the public transport sector won’t be much of a hurdle. He said, “The two and three-wheeler segment will be the first to transition to electric mobility. The main driver for this segment will be unit pricing and consumer education.”

He added, “Public transport Vehicle technology like electric buses are now quite mature in international markets and do not pose a major hurdle. Since charging infrastructure for public transport can be centralised this presents less of a challenge. The four-wheeler segment poses the greatest hurdle to electrification in India. Product affordability, coupled with a complete lack of charging infrastructure, are the major challenges this segment faces.”

The partnership has big plans for India, and commenting about it, Barabie said, “India is a growing market for its need for affordable solutions and innovation. As India is becoming one of the leading EV innovator countries, we see Virtual Forest and Redler joining forces to deal with motion control and power drive challenges in different platforms. This will allow Indian OEMs and EV companies to introduce advanced solutions and create value for the end-users.”

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First published on: 03-11-2021 at 17:51 IST