The EV market is on the rise, with many OEMs and startups alike focusing on clean mobility. Within the automotive segments commercial vehicles are the largest contributors towards pollution and hence, this is a category that needs attention. LCEVs or Light Commercial Electric Vehicles are on the rise, be it three-wheelers, four-wheeler goods carriers, or last-mile delivery vehicles used by e-commerce or FMCG companies. In addition to environmental benefits these vehicles are also less expensive to run, thereby increasing the profitability.
In order to understand this segment better, Express Mobility reached out to Saurav Kumar, the CEO of Euler Motors, a startup that is helping with the EV transition in India. He gave us insights into his company’s plans and how the LCV segment can lead the EV space in India soon.
Arpit Mahendra: Your company is quite young in the EV space so please give us a quick run through the company’s operations.
Saurav Kumar: As the founder and CEO of Euler Motors I started this company three years back, and our focus is on the light electric commercial vehicle segment and within that, for the first five years, we planned to focus on the cargo segment. Our aim is to build vehicles for last mile deliveries and everything from three-wheeler to four-wheeler cargo. Now, we have a three-wheeler cargo vehicle that we are going to unveil around the upcoming festive season. We have deployed roughly 300 of these vehicles so far, and we’ve worked with some of the customers across ecommerce, FMCG and utility companies for their last mile deliveries.
We wanted to understand how we can transition India from an ICE engine to electric mobility era. Charging stations was one thing that we realized were almost non-existent. Even to get a couple of vehicles running, we require that network of charging stations, so Euler Motors built DC charging stations across Delhi NCR.
We are also expanding to Bangalore and setting up charging stations there. Other than setting up charging stations, we are working on the service side so that the mechanics are well aware of mechanical issues. We want to work on decreasing the vehicle down time and setting up a vehicle servicing ecosystem. We also worked with some of the big ecommerce and FMCG companies and convinced them to switch to electric vehicles to deliver whatever payload on a day to day operation.
We have received orders for 2,500 vehicles from companies like Flipkart, Udaan, Big Basket, and they are considering replacing their existing fleet with EVs. We need to make sure that electric vehicles are more efficient than ICEs and that’s when the transition will happen. In the LCEV segment, our vehicles offer the highest payload carrying capacity and highest battery capacity, which gives drivers and fleet owners enough confidence that they will be able to charge the vehicle once and deliver the entire day without having range anxiety. In case they do run low on charge, they can quickly charge with one of our chargers and continue their day.
How did you come up with the name of the company and please elaborate about the funding part?
Our company is named Euler Motors, after the scientist Leonard Euler, and I am a big fan of his. And to the second part, about fundraising, we have raised almost 12 million in capital over the last three years, and Blume Ventures was the first one to wire in the money. This was 2018 and I think we announced it in early 2019, and then the second one was done by Asian Development Bank, Inventus Capital India, and Jetty Ventures, and so we have enough capital at this point to build our vehicles and deliver on that 2,500 orders I mentioned. We are hoping that in the next six to eight months, we should be able to manufacture and deliver these vehicles. So, from a fundraising perspective, we have got good traction around the industry and that’s also because I think the Government of India is very focused on electric mobility.
Are you also looking at last mile connectivity with your products for transporting people like the metro stations?
Passenger vehicles are not in our immediate roadmap. From our research, we are trying to understand which customer segment is ready to move to EVs. Building an EV is just one piece of the puzzle as fleet owners need to be convinced to transition to EVs and so do businesses. They need to be convinced that no matter rain, sun, snow, or floods, the vehicle can perform and build the confidence in them to switch.
From an R & D perspective, what have you done in India, and if you could tell us a bit about the journey and some of the key tech that they have developed, and second, in the future, what other products are you looking at?
The battery pack was the major item. Apart from this was the motor, which together is part of the drivetrain. Then is the electrical and electronics and the integration of all this. The rest are windshield, tyres, rims, suspension, all of these which exist with an ICE vehicle. The battery pack was one of the first items that we looked at, mainly because it makes up 40 to 50% of your build and is the most expensive item. The battery pack works in a certain way, so within that battery pack, we noticed that the ones built here are used for stationary or energy applications in telecom towers or data centres.
So one of the innovations we came up with is the liquid-cooling technology for the battery packs that maintain the temperature between 20 to 30 degrees, regardless of the outside temperature. This increases the battery life by two years, giving the customer longer intervals before changing the internals. We work with tier I suppliers in India to make it here. We have invested a lot in R&D and ensured that our products add values to customers. In the short term, we are building here and making for India, and at some point, we will make India a global EV hub.
Can you tell us more about the product like battery rating, power and the payload capacity. Also how will your vehicle be placed and what are your plans?
We will be making an official announcement about the new product in the next three months. From what we typically encounter, LCEVs tend to overload vehicles and we took the necessary measures for our vehicles to withstand such situations. To build an EV, there are two ways: First is to build for the price segment, what the customer wants to pay, so you build one and sell it today. The second approach is to build the right product which may be expensive today, but will help them transition to a good EV. Even if we have to build just 10,000 units for the next two years, it’s okay with us because we want customers to enjoy the experience and not ruin the EV experience.
Going forward, what are the kind of volumes you are looking at and about your production capacity and how are you planning to ramp up production?
We have built the product and got it validated in the last three years. We have a commitment to deliver the 2,500 vehicle orders in the next six to eight months and we will concentrate on that. We are currently based in Delhi NCR and plan to expand soon to Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad , Kolkata and Mumbai. In terms of production targets, we are looking at making 2,500 vehicles in the next eight months and once we achieve this, we will start looking at future targets.
You are a new organization launching your first product so what is the kind of testing that you’ve done with the product?
Internally, we have done multiple testings up to the component level for vibration and falls at different angles. Then, the government does the testing. Later, we deploy the vehicle and run it internally. We believe that commercial vehicles contribute a lot towards air pollution and this propels us to build better products by testing them at a component level, government level, and road testing them for multiple years.
What is your view on the government’s support now and what do you think should be done in the future? Also, what should vehicle makers collectively do to push electric mobility?
Something I feel that was well-done was that the policies became more coherent in terms of directions going forward. In terms of challenges, there are many, be it charging station policy or standardisation or the subsidy itself. But after 2018, the government has been doing a good job with the FAME II subsidy with relaxations on customs duties for cells. Speaking about manufacturing, the push for stricter performance criteria has lowered. A lot of OEMs are thinking about making those capital investments, and that you can see, reflects in the number of EVs that are being launched, year on year, new brands coming in and launching, so there is that coherence, which is actually much more important than anything else.
In the EV space the passenger electric mobility and commercial electric mobility are expected to have very different growth. What is your view on that?
I believe that the commercial vehicles will be the first to transition to EVs and in that segment, the three-wheelers. That is why we are concentrating on LCEVs. This would include all forms of LCEVs, goods carriers, intercity vehicles, etc. The next in line would be the two-wheelers which are already in the process, and then would be cars. In my opinion, by 2023-24, India will reach the tip-over point when 30 to 40% of sales will be EVs, at least in the segment we are operating.
At that time, the ecosystems will be there, charging infrastructure will be there, service, costs for battery packs will be established, and most businesses would have transitioned. Answering an earlier question at this point, as to what the government can improve, I will say removing certain permits for EVs will help a lot.
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