EV: Doing the right but still not enough

The EV in India has unfortunately been a very ‘bottom of the barrel’ product and we need to have an aspirational buy in from consumers
Anil Arora, Country Head, Clean Motion India

‘EV is the future of transportation’, this has been said repeatedly since the 21st century; however, the EV still losses out the conventional vehicles. Yet the optimistic forecasts suggest rapid EV adoption is just around the bend. One such optimistic personality is Anil Arora, Country Head, Clean Motion India, who discuss the ‘why and what’ is stopping the EV from donning the ‘hero’ cap. With their new battery swap system, Clean Motion is sure to turn the heat up for EV.

1 Is India ready for electric vehicles? In your experience, what concerns do people have about EVs?
Yes, I think Indian automobile is ready to go electric. However, there is a large section of Indian who are still sceptical about accepting electric vehicles and still prefer to embrace the conventional ones for their use. From what I understand, the people are majorly concerned the electric vehicles’ mileage range, its on-road cost and the non-availability of different models to choose from. Unavailability of vehicle model options is a major concern among the people. Globally, there are aesthetically designs and performing EV’s which are not available in India.

2 What sort of orders/policies do you want to see from the government to get the electric vehicles back on track?
I expect the government to come up with policies on the outdated RTO regulations and which do not encourage fleet operations for aggregators. There are very stringent restrictions around operating E3W in cities and mostly cities have a licensing issue around them. There should be a national policy on EV’s in terms of corporate fleet operations.

3 How long do you see the shift from non-sustainable energy sources to more sustainable energy taking?
The shift from non-sustainable energy sources to more sustainable energy taking is very nebulous. In areas such as renewables, there seems to be some traction but in the EV space a lot more needs to be done. The regulators could lower import duties on cars such as Tesla, Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf to name a few. These could set the tone for customers reaching out to buy more aspirational and aesthetically world class products. The EV in India has unfortunately been a very ‘bottom of the barrel’ product and we need to have an aspirational buy in from consumers.

4 Tell us about your partnership with Fortum to develop a battery swap ecosystem attuned for Indian e-vehicle market.
The battery swap is being designed in Sweden by Clean Motion and will be delivered to Fortum shortly. The swap is being manufactured in India under technical technology transfer from Sweden. It is suitable for light electric vehicles such as the E2W and E3W. The IP is jointly held between Clean Motion and Fortum. Pilot trials of this swap should commence from October-November 2018 in Delhi NCR.

5 How do you gauge the implementation of battery swapping on Zbee?
It will definitely improve the operational efficiency as the Zbees cater to 1st and last mile connectivity. Currently, the vehicles are geo-fenced to a 5 km radius. The swap should allow an extension to commute to 10-12 km per trip which willincrease the top and bottom line in terms of ROI in the operations.

6 What infrastructure and resources are required to support mass adoption?
• Adequate funding to incubate new start-ups in the space.
• A mix of both DC quick chargers and battery swaps from the infrastructure side.
• Availability of parking and charging facilities.
• Better quality of vehicles.
• Support from the local RTO’s

7 What was the biggest challenge you faced with this project you have undertaken?
The major challenge was availability of funds to quickly ramp up the volumes. Now, however, there are quite a number of corporate and PE investors evaluating this category. The RTO permissions are necessary. A case in point is that the Delhi RTO has no policy on E3W in the L5 (auto rickshaw) category; hence, we are not being approved by the Delhi Transport Authority. Another major concern is the non-co-operation from the metro formats to allow park and charge. The metro has invariably rented most of the available space to private companies and they do not allow for park and charge. This is a challenge as there seems to be a mere lip service for clean transport solutions.

8 Do you see fast charging tech improving to a point where swapping comes under threat?
I think both will co-exist. Swapping might not be a solution for heavier mobility solutions such as buses and cars. Moreover, a mix of quick charging and swaps are critical initially to evaluate the preference of the user. Eventually, the market forces will decide the winner.

9 The electric tuk-tuks ‘podtaxis’ manufactured by Clean Motion have created a buzz in the Stockholm. What is your take on that?
Yes! They are doing exceptionally well and are now heated for the winter conditions over there. In the NCR region, where we operate we have had a phenomenal response at both the Ambience mall and Mall of India. In cyber city, we also had a very good response. However, our winning goal is more than 60 per cent of our commuters are women!

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