One of the good things all over the world is that there is a lot of money being poured into battery technology for storage and e-mobility. This will definitely lead to newer, better and cost effective solutions for batteries. Having said that Li-Ion will remain the front runner and we may see solid state batteries take up a strong position here. I also personally see the hydrogen economy emerge in the sustainable mobility space in the next 10 years.
This will be another game changer, says Akshay Kashyap, Founder and Managing Director, GreenFuel Energy Solutions, one of the leading providers of components and solutions for sustainable mobility solutions. In conversation with Manu Tayal, Associate Editor, Saur Energy International, Kashyap shared his views on various topics including company’s product offerings, scope for 2 and 3 wheelers in India, Bharat VI norms, technological trends in battery and EVs etc. Here’re the excerpts from that exclusive interview published in the Saur Energy International Magazine’s December 2019 edition:
Q. Tell us something about GreenFuel Energy Solutions and its various product offerings? What attracted the company founders to this business?
GreenFuel Energy Solutions is a leading provider of components and solutions for sustainable mobility solutions for both Gas fuel vehicles and E-mobility. We were established in year 2006 and are happy to say today that we count all the largest auto Oem’s in India as our esteemed customers.
Personally I have always believed in sustainable mobility, particularly natural gas and electric mobility, as solutions to the climate change and pollution problems in urban areas. When I moved back from USA I saw there was a gap in the technology used abroad and the one being used in India for CNG vehicles. We decided to make this a business and find a way to bridge the standard of components used abroad and in India.
Q. What is attractive about the electric two and three wheeler segment in India?
India represents a unique opportunity whereby 70 percent of the commuting is done on 2 wheelers and where we sell almost a million 3 wheelers a year. We are the largest market for 3 wheelers in the world which are used for solving the last mile commute problem. Both these segments are ripe for electrification due to the easy return on investment and the travel profile of commuters using such modes. The rest of the world does not have this unique proposition. So we decided to focus our efforts here to make a mark and ensure we emerge leaders in this space.
Q. As per your estimate, in order to start the business of lithium-ion battery packs for 2 and 3 wheelers in India how much investment will be required?
The first thing to do is R&D to make a unique engineered product for Indian conditions. Sadly in India, most people want to try and take advantage of this market and they are just importing cheap products from China without really engineering the product for Indian conditions, safety and reliability. Only our R&D spend on the product was Rs 7 crore and took us 2 years to really come out with a robust, reliable and safe product. The next thing is Capex and go to market.
We have invested over 4-5 crore in Capex and this is just for a capacity of 24 MW. As the market grows there will be further requirements. However our competition is primarily with cheap imports done from China by some Indian companies with Scant regard for safety, reliability or performance. To really promote a good product it will require patience and an upward spend of atleast Rs 15 crore in the first 2 years of inception.
Q. Will ‘Bharat VI’ norms be helpful for the new and emerging companies in the market?
I don’t think BS 6 norms are useful for any small companies in the market. There maybe a few exceptions but overall the technology for normal IC engines up gradation to BS6 comes from German or Japanese companies. The Indian OEM’s depend on such big companies for a technology solution so no “new” companies would get an opportunity here. Having said that I hope the price increase and lower GST on new energy vehicles such as electric helps bridging the price difference between such technologies and encourages people to adopt newer, cleaner vehicle technology.
Q. Are you planning for some joint ventures as well in order to take a leap in the Electric Vehicles (EV) segment? If yes by when?
We are open to the idea however at the moment and in the near term we have no such plans. We believe that India should lead the technology race in the ERA of new Energy vehicles and not just become a factory for the companies as has happened in the past in the automotive sector. It is sad that being the 4th largest automotive market in the world we were not able to create our own technology and relied mostly on JV’s to fulfill the demand.
Q. What is the current scenario of recycling or disposing of lithium-ion batteries in India? Is the government providing enough support?
There is no clear policy document in this regard in India. Having said that this is not that Big in the world as well except re-cycling. Once the batteries are used up in vehicles they still have enough life to service demands of the Energy Storage industry. This offers a win-win solution as the life of batteries is extended even longer and there is easier adoption in solar and other stationary applications due to lower cost of such cells.
Q. What new technological trends do you see in the battery and electric vehicles segment?
One of the good things all over the world is that there is a lot of money being poured into battery technology for storage and E-Mobility. This will definitely lead to newer, better and cost effective solutions for batteries. Having said that LiIon will remain the front runner and we may see solid state batteries take up a strong position here. I also personally see the hydrogen economy emerge in the sustainable mobility space in the next 10 years. This will be another game changer.
Q. Is recruiting the right kind of talent still a challenge in the market?
This is one of the biggest challenges in the market even today. Getting the right talent with the requisite skills and character traits is a big challenge. We have to learn to adjust to the “new” aspiration of younger people and ensure we keep training them for up grading their skills. This is one area I think the government and private institutions can focus on to have specific courses for new age vehicles and train students accordingly.