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Ashwin Shankar

Founder

BatteryPool

1 Rating

CHANGES IN ELECTRIC VEHICLES Battery swapping can help address range and downtime challenges

Mar 3, 2022

…says Ashwin Shankar, Founder, BatteryPool, in this interview with Juili Eklahare. The start-up offers battery charging solutions for EV fleets and commercial vehicles. Shankar throws light on how the talk about EVs has changed from five years ago, the hurdles to the mass adoption of EVs in fleet use cases and how the start-up customises its swapping solutions to the battery packs & vehicles being used in a fleet. Excerpts…

After graduation, you moved to India and spent a year working at a technology policy think tank, where you were exploring technology and innovation in the automotive industry. This was late 2016-17, when there was a lot of talk about EVs. So, what difference do you see in the talks about EVs back then and today?

The biggest change is that back then, it was a lot of talk at a policy level and in various conferences & seminars. It wasn’t even clear whether the Indian automotive industry will ever make this transition. EVs back then were not seen to be cost-competitive against traditional gasoline vehicles. Whereas now, there is a significant momentum and uptake of EVs led by the B2B/commercial vehicle segment. The rising petrol prices, combined with subsidies for EVs, have made them very cost-competitive. We also see a wide adoption in the personal mobility space, and OEMs & start-ups have already launched their own brand of EVs and set their EV strategy in motion.

Can you share your views on the advantages of a battery-as-a-service subscription?

With battery-as-a-service, EV users can swap out their discharged battery pack for a fully charged one in under 30 seconds. The service would also enable EV users to buy the vehicle without a battery pack and stay subscribed to the battery as a service. This model can bring down the upfront cost of the electric vehicle by up to 50%.

Is battery swapping the cure to EV range challenges?

We believe battery swapping can help address range and downtime challenges, especially in the fleet and commercial electric vehicle use cases. In these use cases, downtime can be expensive as it leads to lost revenue for the operators.

BatteryPool offers SaaS and hardware solutions that allow fleet operators to deploy and manage electric vehicles. Can you give more details on this?

We believe that the lack of charging infrastructure and downtime caused by charging are the biggest hurdles to the mass adoption of EVs in fleet use cases. We provide the hardware and software stack for fleets to deploy their own battery as a service. This helps address the charging challenges of their EVs by eliminating the downtime associated with the charging. The hardware is an IoT-enabled battery swapping station and the software is a SaaS solution. A combination of the two helps manage the entire swapping operation for the fleet operator.

The electric vehicle battery swapping market growth is mainly driven by the increasing need for zero-waiting time for EV charging. So, how are you making this particular element your forte?

Our key differentiator is that we are taking a battery agnostic and software first approach towards the battery swapping product. Unlike other players, we do not have a standard battery pack that we require fleets and OEMs to subscribe to. We customise our swapping solutions to the battery packs and vehicles being used in a fleet. This allows us to build swapping stations for a larger number of vehicles in the EV market and gives vehicle OEMs the freedom to design, procure and build IP around their own battery packs.

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