Vikrant Agarwal, Co-Founder and Director, EVI Technologies

At a time when electric vehicle (EV) charging is gaining ground in India, companies such as EVI Technologies Private Limited (EVIT) are providing services such as charging and swapping lithium-ion batteries at short distances for EVs. EVIT has also signed a 10-year MoU with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for installing charging infrastructure at 5,000 BSNL sites across the country. In an interview with tele.net, Vikrant Agarwal, co-founder and director, EVI Technologies, discusses the company’s focus areas, key features of its partnership with BSNL and future plans. Edited excerpts…

What are the key focus areas for EVIT?

New Delhi-based EVIT is India’s fastest growing EV charging solutions infrastructure company. The company was founded by an alumni of the Indian Institute of Te­ch­nology, Delhi, in June 2017.

The company offers end-to-end e-mobility solutions focused on the highest quality standards, sustainable reliability and sustained performance. It designs its own EV chargers. Charging starts once the user/operator is verified through a user au­thentication process via a mobile app. This complete process includes the central server, the mobile app and the charger (hardware) at the site, with standard char­ging protocols.

How is the EV charging ecosystem evolving in India? What role can the telecom sector play in its expansion?

The market opportunity has expanded from hardware to software solutions for the entire EV industry, making it a bigger market in the automobile sector.

The biggest problem with EVs is char­ging infrastructure. Batteries are expensive and acc­ount for almost 50-60 per cent of an EV’s costs. Swappable batteries are an op­tion, but they require ubiquitous charging and swapping points.

The answer, I believe, lies in our EVIT-owned-franchise-operated or EOFO mo­d­el. It will empower millions of entreprene­u­rs to set up private, for-profit charging stations. If we set the right policy, we can have electric chargers in every nook and corner of the country. These franchisees, or public charge offices, would ha­ve batteries for swapping, a bank of chargers for charging them with, and refreshments for us while we wait. They could contain e-commerce package drop points, biometric facilities for Aadhaar and a bunch of ot­her services. But primarily, they would charge EVs with clean electricity – some coming from the grid, and some perhaps from solar po­wer generated locally. Mobile phones wo­uld also be involved, through ap­ps for sche­duling charging time and hel­ping pay for it. Most importantly, these EV charging/ swapping stations will give millions of our educated yet jobless youth an opportunity to make a decent living. Fur­ther, the telecom sector will take an entire eco­system to the next level by providing ad­vancements in the communication of these EV solutions with the central servers and end users, for easy accessibility.

Can you share more about EVIT’s partnership with BSNL? What is the role of either stakeholder under this partnership?

EVIT has inked a pact with BSNL for setting up battery swapping and charging stations. Under the agreement, EVIT will co­ver the entire upfront investment in ser­vices pertaining to the MoU, along with the operation and maintenance of ba­ttery swapping in­frastructure. Mean­while, BSNL will be responsible for providing the requisite space and power connections for installing the battery swapping infrastructure.

What are the challenges that you are facing in implementing projects?

The challenges in the EV space are:

  • State EV policies: Most states in India have not laun­ched an EV policy to enable their regional transport office to define facilities for the EV user. As of now, only 10 states have notified an EV policy in draft or final version. More clarity is required in terms of infrastructure development and the role of lo­cal bodies such as municipal and de­ve­lopment authorities, to make things easier for the end user.
  • Standardisation of batteries: Battery standards for electric two- and three-wheelers are yet to be finalised. This will be a problem if the market picks up fast. As of now, battery connectors have also not been standardised, causing a lot of friction between vehicle original equipment manufacturers, battery providers and charging infrastructure providers.

What opportunities will the onset of 5G open up for EVIT? What will be your future growth strategy?

5G will take the EV business to the next level, as connected automobiles are the fu­ture. 5G will promote greater reliability bet­ween machines so as to provide the best services for the next-level automotive sector, including EVs. Our current focus is on being in the industry as a design house for EV chargers and a charging infrastructure provider for fleet partners. We are trying to get into more prime locations at the centre of the cities and towns, to convert them in­to good returns for EV charging and batte­ry swapping investments in the near future.