Mumbai: In a boost to India’s electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure network, Chetan Maini-led start-up SUN Mobility plans to set up the first batch of its battery-swapping stations for electric two and three-wheelers across the country in the last quarter of this fiscal, a senior executive said on Thursday. The Bengaluru-based start-up is yet to set up any pilot stations, since it had been focusing on developing the core technology so far.
SUN Mobility will deploy “test stations in the field in the next couple of months since the technology has been developed”, Chetan Maini, co-founder and vice-chairman at SUN Mobility, said in an interview. “In the last quarter of this year, we will put 50 to 100 of them out there,” Maini added, without divulging financial details.
The stations, which use modular batteries suited to the entire gamut of EVs, will be set up at existing bus depots across the country, in northern India to cater to e-rickshaws and in southern India to charge electric two-wheelers. “Different cities will have different solutions because the consumer profiling is very different,” Maini said.
Incorporated in April 2017 to address the barriers of high costs, range anxiety and cumbersome charging associated with EVs, SUN Mobility is an equal joint venture between Virya Mobility 5.0, an EV technology firm founded by Maini and his two brothers in February 2017, and SUN New Energy Systems, set up by investment banker Uday Khemka under his family’s private equity and venture capital firm SUN Group.
Akin to its partnership with commercial vehicle maker Ashok Leyland Ltd for its electric bus Circuit S, SUN Mobility will also partner with two and three-wheeler original equipment manufacturers soon to make their electric vehicles compatible with its proprietary Internet of Things-enabled battery packs, said Maini, credited with developing India’s first electric car Reva.
Through a network of swapping stations named Quick Interchange Stations (QIS), SUN Mobility aims to reduce the costs of owning an electric vehicle by adopting a battery-swapping model, where users pay only for the energy stored in the battery, not the battery itself which accounts for almost a fourth of the cost of an EV.
On Thursday, SUN Mobility said it was building a ‘Smart Network’ to connect its batteries and swapping stations to end-users through a mobile application in partnership with Microsoft Corp.’s India arm.
Using Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform, the smart network will allow SUN Mobility to identify locations to set up its stations, track battery health and optimize it in real time, in addition to helping users track battery charge levels and identify the nearest QIS, among other features.
Maini called for a strong yet flexible government policy and regulatory framework for electric vehicles that doesn’t favour any particular form of technology, adding that “there is a need for initial financial support for businesses”. Regulatory support such as permission to deploy charging or battery swapping infrastructure at public transit hubs like metro stations will ensure optimized use of realty.
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