During the post pandemic, the user's profile has changed a lot for electric vehicles. Initially, the Electric Vehicle was being purchased as the second two-wheeler in the family, whereas what we are observing now is that it is actually becoming the first vehicle of the family. People who are using public transport for commuting are now opting for personnel mobility. In this light, SemiconMedia’s Senior Correspondent Nijhum Rudra spoke exclusively to Nishchal Chaudhary - Founder - Batt:RE about the several disruptions in the Indian Electric Vehicle sector during the pandemic and what are the appropriate solutions that could successfully solve these impediments.
Q. There are several challenges and impediments that are still disturbing the domestic EV ecosystem in India. So, what are the major challenges, and can you point out some appropriate solutions at this moment that could solve these challenges?
Every industry goes through multiple challenges from the time it is born and matures. I think right now, there are certain challenges which are more to do with the indigenization of certain parts. Secondly, there is still a huge segment of people who are still not convinced about the Electric Vehicle as the right mode of transportation and commute. So, I think it is a kind of policy that the Government is introducing from time to time and this FAME scheme is subsidizing the high-speed scooters and also the entry of certain large players in the segment. Slowly, we will reach an inflection point from where Electric Mobility will just really take off. My personal view is that over the next 9 years or a decade, we can actually see an accumulative growth rate of almost 100% per annum.
Q. Currently, where do you put the Indian EV domain both in terms of technology and initiatives? Would you like to highlight some particular initiatives that could strengthen the domestic EV chain?
What are the things that are holding people back from buying an Electric Vehicle? The first one is that there is no service network, if it is there, it is quite an unorganized service network, which is there for petrol vehicles. Right now, we don't have normal repair shops that can just open up EV if something goes wrong and repair it. To address that, we have introduced a RoadSide Assistance, which is being given to all our customers by default. If the customer finds any problem, he/she has to dial a number (toll-free) and his vehicle will be picked up and taken to the nearest authorized service center. So, we are actually trying to give that confidence to our customers that if at all anything goes wrong with the vehicle, you don't have to get stranded on the road. We are now having more than 500 recharge stations across the country and people can actually through our App locate the nearest charging stations. We have 500 charging stations right now, but as we go along, we have a very big plan on this and the idea is that at least in all the cities that we are present at, we will put up the charging station at every 2 to 3 km.
Q. Where do you paint the picture of this ecosystem during pre and post-pandemic? What is the current situation during this second wave? Is the sector terribly affected?
Not at all. If you actually look at last year, almost one quarter got wiped out because of the pandemic, but the overall industry actually really picked up. There was a V-shaped recovery in the industry and it really took off and this year, in the month of May, we saw a slight drop, but April was fantastic and June is also showing a huge amount of growth. And I don't know about the 3rd wave, but I think if the situation continues like this. This year is going to be very important for Electric Mobility in India as it is actually going to shape the future of the ecosystem in the country. This year is very critical from all points of view.
Q. What is the current business model of Batt:RE and how much it has changed over the years?
Batt:RE is more of a B2C company and not a B2B company. We are focusing on building our distribution. We are now present in 150+ dealership outlets and in 15 states. Our company is expanding its distribution pretty far and by Diwali, we are targeting to cross 300 dealers in India and that is how we are going to be working on it. We have identified certain pockets which are more of a feeder market, which is important for any company who really wants to create an impact in that particular area to be present.
Q. Batt:RE mostly caters its products only in India. Do you have any plans to stretch your solutions and services globally? What would be your key strategy?
Right now, it is not on top of our priority list. What we are focusing on is to actually establish ourselves and create a Pan India distribution. That is the priority number one and maybe in the next fiscal, we will be looking at getting into the International markets, but till then, I think we are going to be focusing only on India.
Q. What is the biggest differentiating aspect of Batt:RE? Is there something unique your company caters to?
For us, the biggest differentiator is Lithium Ferro Phosphate batteries. We were the first company to introduce these batteries in Electric vehicles in India. The life of these batteries is almost 2000 recharge cycles, which means, almost around 6 years if we recharge them every day. Other than that, I think we have a very loaded product in terms of features. All our vehicles, mostly the entry-level or mid-level, appear with front and rear disk brakes, USB chargers, reverse gear, remote keys. These are the basic features which are there in all our vehicles and even basic, introductory level or entry-level products also have all these features. We have fast chargers (10 ampere fast chargers) on all the vehicles.
Q. Finally, what would be your roadmap in the coming years, and how as a company Batt:RE plans to ameliorate the ecosystem?
We are working on two new models. One is a high-speed scooter, and the other is a high-speed motorcycle. We have conceptualized, prototyped these products in-house. Batt:RE is working very closely with all the suppliers to make a robust product that meets all the expectations of Indian markets. We plan to launch these two products before Diwali. This will really help us in addressing a segment where we are not present right now. Both the products are going to be priced very attractively to address the large mass commuter segment.