We Are Targetting Volumes of Nearly 175,000 Vehicles Yearly in Next 5-7 Years

We Are Targetting Volumes of Nearly 175,000 Vehicles Yearly in Next 5-7 Years

EV startup, ElectronEV was founded in 2020 by Vinay Jayachand and Rakesh Koneru. Based out of Bay Area, USA and Hyderabad, the startup recently announced its entry into the Indian market.

Its founder Vinay Jayachand brings to the table more than 11 years of experience in the automotive industry. Of this, he spent eight years on the development of electric vehicle and battery technology in companies like Cummins Inc, Electric Vehicles International, and HummingbirdEV Inc. His vision, at ElectronEV, is to create the most advanced powertrain systems for sustainable transportation. In an interview with Saur Energy International, he speaks about ElectronEV’s foray into the Indian market and the other markets, where the startup has established a stronghold. He also speaks at length about the firm’s ambitions.

Tell us about your expansion into the Indian market.

Vinay Jayachand, founder, ElectronEV

Vinay Jayachand, founder, ElectronEV

ElectronEV is a US-based technology company dedicated to providing sustainable mobility solutions and transforming the category of light/medium and heavy commercial vehicles towards electrification. Our current conversion platform, Amber is allowing fleets to be electrified in the 7-to-15-ton space. We are working with various fleets in different transportation areas in understanding their operational needs and providing them with end to end mobility solutions, which includes setting up of charging stations. At the same time, we are working with various partners within India to contract small volume manufacturing, selling and distribution, deployment and operation of fleets. In this process, we will be looking to raise capital to increase our production capability and continuously innovate new solutions to meet market demands. The goal for ElectronEV is to create a blueprint/working model for mass production of EVs with the low capex microfactory approach capable of 15000 units per annum and replicate the same model in various growing economies around the world, specifically in South Asia, Africa and GCC regions. Globally, we are looking at targeting volumes of close to 175,000 vehicles/annum, within the next 5-7 years.

We are a very customer-centric company in all departments from engineering to manufacturing. As a tech company, we our designing and building vehicles to meet global standards like UL, IEC etc. However, we have application specific teams in specific regions catering to specific needs of customer as drive cycles, environmental conditions and terrain are different in different regions. Also, there is a balance to meet between cost and comfort/user experience/premium features between various regions.

What led to the formation of ElectronEV?

ElectronEV is focused on the electrification of the commercial vehicle market. India is one of the largest growing economies in the world and has witnessed exponential growth in the field of E-Commerce. However, this also means that there are more vehicles on the road now than there ever were. This has led to a significant increase in the emission of greenhouse gasses. Currently, in India, commercial vehicles on an average, emit 140-160g of carbon per ton-km. Also, they contribute significantly to NOx emissions which are about 100mg/km.

At ElectronEV, we believe that from an environmental perspective, it is imperative to look at electrification from a macro scale, wherein heavy vehicle segments are major contributors to road transport pollution. Our mission is to lower carbon emissions with our affordable and reliable electric vehicle product line bringing cleaner air to our communities.

It was important to work closely with the fleets in allowing them to transition to zero emission without altering their operations. Our modular and customer centric approach provides that flexibility today where the customer is apprehensive about new technology adoption. But it is required to be aggressive now as the world needs solutions for sustainable transportation. ElectronEV products and solutions provide that option towards being sustainable. We are designing and building vehicles to be the most efficient to own and operate on a long run.

Which segment of EV from ElectronEV is witnessing the most demand? What are the demographics of your primary customer?

After investing time and efforts in the US, we are now focusing on South East Asia, Africa and GCC regions, among other emerging markets. We are witnessing an increased demand in these markets, particularly in the category of heavy commercial vehicles. ElectronEV is focused on the electrification of the commercial vehicle market. India, one of the largest growing economies in the world, is one of our key markets.

Just with E-commerce and food industry for the 7 to 12 ton space in last and middle mile delivery segments, the forecast is about 10,0000 units to be electrified by 2025, which is only about 10% of the total market opportunity.

Tell us about the price trends of lithium-ion batteries in 2022 and their impact on adoption when compared to 2021, when they witnessed a decline.

The Indian lithium-ion battery market was estimated at USD 1.66 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 4.85 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 17.23% over the corresponding forecast period from 2022 to 2027. Due to Covid-19 outbreak, the regulations have had a detrimental affect on the sale of  commodities such as lead, causing a significant drop in demand in 2020 and negatively impacting Indian lithium-ion battery manufacturers.

Do you have your own charging network for your vehicles or counting on a quality public charging network to evolve?

As mentioned before, we are still in the company-building phase. In India, we are currently working with Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) to have Amber (electric powertrain system platform) certified as a repower conversion platform for 7, 8-, 10-, 12- & 15-ton GVW. We will be deploying Amber aggressively across various vehicle platforms for customers in India in the next two years. Additionally, we will also be participating in developing the country’s charging infrastructure and ecosystem to deploy our own Level 2 AC charging stations, strategically, to assist our customers with end-to-end mobility services. These stations will be UL rated and are designed as per IEC standards and very shortly certified to BIS standards IS-17017.

What is this proprietary EV technology all about?

In line with the long-term vision of the company to create customer-centric end-to-end mobility solution, our IP creation and product innovation started three years back with an electric powertrain system platform called ‘Amber’. This is our proprietary technology stack which includes battery pack and battery management system, traction inverter, motor and charging systems, digital driver interface and connectivity, chassis power management and digital control. With Amber, we will be providing energy-power-dense, highly efficient, and robust powertrains which will be most economical to scale, own and use on any chassis platform. Our autonomy over the software stack will assist in delivering customer-centric products, solutions, and services at the end of the manufacturing line. The Amber platform is created, and designed, by the founding team, and industry experts from Silicon Valley, for the global market. It is ElectronEV’s Gen 1 platforms built, tested, and benchmarked to automotive/aerospace standards with respect to thermal, NVH, EMC, and high voltage safety. The software and hardware design and development follows ISO26262 methodology. The company internally is very stern in adopting and practicing best processes from automotive industry like DFMEA, 8D problem solving, Six-Sigma in both engineering and operations.

What are some bottlenecks in the EV landscape?

The rising prices of fuel, globally, has impacted the automotive industry. When we look at current ownership cost of conventional vehicles, the vehicle price is just a small portion of the overall expense., Major ownership costs include, what we call “operational costs”, such as, petrol/diesel price, breakdown time, service and maintenance costs. The type of vehicle owned also impacts the operational cost-. bigger the vehicle (commercial vehicles), higher is the cost of operating it and higher is the emission rate.

As an end-to-end mobility company, we look at overall cost of ownership for the life of vehicle not just vehicle purchase cost. At the end of the day, per km cost is what a fleet operator would be interested in. The more we could help them save the better it is for their overall fleet costs and will lead to higher margins.

ElectronEV aims to achieve this by focusing on the following factors:

Vehicle cost: Being an end-to-end technology mobility company enables ElectronEV to provide purpose-built vehicles for the fleet’s economical requirements.

  1. Smart and application driven vehicles will help in reducing the overall packaging cost of vehicles
  2. ElectronEV’s IP stack will allow  vertical integration, better control component costs and supplier dependency
  3. Localized supply chain to help in reducing CAPEX towards vehicle build, shipping costs and enable just-in-time production effectively
  4. Reduction of factory overheads through Microfactories

Ownership: Well-to-wheel further expands into ElectronEV, providing flexible and unique ownership models with a goal to speed up mass adoption of zero-emission commercial vehicles.

Flexible ownership models tailor made to fit all use and economical cases.

  1. Outright purchase
  2. Lease based
  3. Subscription based
  4. Battery subscription &
  5. ‘Uber’ of Trucks-Truck-as-a-service

Tell us about ‘range anxiety’ in EV. Does it keep a customer away from buying from this sector?

The EV market in India is new, which explains range anxiety- but consumers are coming forward to invest in EVs. Market leaders are investing in campaigns to change the traditional mindset of consumers and encourage the adoption of EVs in India.  Efforts are made to deal with concerns such as charging stations, infrastructure battery costs and temperature issues. As per a study by CEEW, this will translate into 102 million EVs. Also, 29 lakh public chargers will be required to deploy 102 million electric vehicles by FY30. As of 25 March 2022, a total of 1,742 public charging stations were operational in India, according to Vehicle 4 data cited by an agency report.

Are you looking at a particular regional focus for now in India?

ElectronEV is a global company with first go to markets being India and US. Our approach towards vehicle production using Microfactory is catered towards being where the customer is, but not tied to any particular region or market as asked above. With the above said in India, ElectronEV will be focussing on the whole India market and localizing the manufacturing.

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