Battery Swapping Can Reduce EV Costs Drastically: Kavinder Khurana, MD, TeslaPower

Highlights :

Tesla Power USA is a United States (US)-based battery company that started its journey in India in 2021. It claims to manufacture 90 percent of its batteries in India through collaborations with local battery Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). The company claims to offer a wide range of lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. It also claims to have a unique technology for recycling batteries. 

Kavinder Khurana, the Managing Director (MD) of Tesla Power USA, in an exclusive interview with Saur Energy, speaks about the company’s operations, plans, and the likely fate of new battery technologies in India. Excerpts: 

Battery Swapping Can Reduce EV Costs Drastically: Kavinder Khurana, MD, TeslaPower Battery Swapping Can Reduce EV Costs Drastically: Kavinder Khurana, MD, TeslaPower

Why Tesla Power USA invested in India. How much potential do you see here?

Tesla Power USA is a United States (US)-based entity. It has invested heavily in battery rejuvenation technology. The company was launched in India in September 2021. Globally, it operates in 18 countries. It includes four countries in Latin America, seven in Africa and six in the Middle East besides India. India is one of the largest markets for battery storage technology and is in focus globally in the cleantech sector. We are now aiming that 50 percent of the global revenue of Tesla Power should come from India alone. 

How has Tesla Power’s journey in India been until now? 

We now have around distributors and 300 retail outlets. We also have more than 1 million consumers. Tesla Power’s journey had been very exciting. Entering as a new player in the Indian battery market was a challenge, but we slowly made our footprint and won the trust of consumers and the supply chain. While other firms sell only selected products, we offer a wide range of battery storage facilities like four-wheelers, trucks, and tractors. We have UPS services, solar inverters and several other products. We are expanding further with new product plans. 

You have committed to have 5000 EV Charging Stations in India by 2025. What is the progress on that now?

We have already opened more than 300 EV charging stations and are working to expand it further per our commitment. Most of them are equipped with charging facilities and battery-swapping services. We are going to introduce e-two-wheeler batteries very soon. We expect consumers to buy more replacement batteries for EVs soon as the EV market has been picking up in India. We expect to have 1,000 EV charging stations by the end of this year. 

Do you have plans to use renewable power to charge these batteries to make EV charging cleaner? 

Tesla Power is exploring using solar power to charge the batteries at our charging stations. It will ensure the actual use of renewable power in the battery sector. However, there are constraints too, like space in retail outlets. Wherever we find it viable, we plan to use solar power to fuel our EV charging stations. 

As a battery-swapping service provider, what are the main challenges you see in its growth in India?

Battery Swapping Stations (BSS) is the ideal solution for EV consumers. Soon, we will see that many automobile companies will sell EVs without batteries. It can also help in reducing the showroom prices of the EVs. However, there are obstacles on the way, too. Several Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) make EV batteries and ports of different sizes, creating hurdles for mass adoption of battery swapping. If there is more standardization and uniformity in designs, this can become a successful and viable alternative to battery charging stations. 

In case Battery Swapping becomes a success, to what extent the prices of EVs could be reduced?

In the case of two-wheeler EVs, it could be up to 40 percent to 50 percent based on the kind of battery used. Around 40 percent of the cost of two-wheeler EVs is from its batteries alone. In high-speed two-wheelers where Li-ion batteries started are used, this could be as high as 50 percent. For low-speed two-wheelers where lead acid batteries are used, this could be 40 percent. 

How do you see the fate of different categories of batteries in the light of new emerging technologies in the sector? 

The lead acid battery market size is around in India at Rs 70,000 crore and growing at a CAGR of 8-9%, whereas the total value of Li-ion battery is less than 10 percent, around 7000 crore. With the faster adoption of EVs, demand for Li-ion batteries is slated to surge. 

However, EV is the only industry where Li-ion batteries will be highly successful. However, demand for lead acid batteries will continue for UPS batteries, deep cycle batteries, cranking batteries, and telecom battery sectors. They will most likely be there for the next 20-30 years. New emerging technologies like Sodium ions, fuel cells and others exist. For a market like India, those energy storage systems will thrive and dominate the cheaper and more affordable market. The cost will be a deciding factor for mass adoption. We may see other technologies surpassing the demand for Lithium-ion. 

What does Tesla Power offer for recycling batteries that you produce?

We have developed an ECBE technology (ElectroChemical Battery Enhancement). It is applicable for lead acid batteries as they are more in number. We have recycled more than 2 lakh such batteries in the last two years with this technology, which has lived their life. We increased their life for another two years. It was possible due to our proprietary technology of ECBE.  

We also heard about the leasing model of batteries from Tesla. How does this practice work? 

We have tried giving “power as a service” to several MSME sectors where they just pay subscription-free to us and we take care of the installation, maintenance, monitoring and recycling it at the end of their life. It has helped several MSME units not think about operating and maintaining battery energy storage systems for their industries. We can also see the same technology in large renewable energy projects. Battery energy storage for mega renewable energy projects is costly, and maintenance is another issue. So, there would be arrangements like this through the OPEX model where firms like us could help lease batteries for such projects.

Are you planning to participate in government tenders for renewable energy projects with energy storage systems?

We will be participating based on our eligibility. We are aggressively moving towards it. We have already installed it in the private sector. Through tenders, we have also provided services in regions like Ladakh. With our expansion, we would like to participate in battery storage systems in renewable projects. 

What are the future plans of Tesla Power in India?

In India, we have plans with more product lines. We have appliances like alkaline water purifiers. We have plans to launch home appliances and lubricants, too. It will add to our value chains. 

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