EV Charging Infrastructure is Racing Ahead of Vehicle Sales, Most Chargers Unutilized: Interview
QYK Charging pod which will be used to charge electric vehicles. (Photo: Magenta/eMatrixmile)
As the world ushers into a hopeful 2021, a lesson learnt from 2020 as far as environment is concerned, especially in India is how beautiful our skies looked during lockdown, making people realize the importance of clean air. One way to contribute to cleaner and greener environment is by adopting electric vehicles as preferred mode of transportation. While it would be a far fetched idea to think that lockdown will help change buyer's mentality, it surely has ignited a spark and will choices available, it wouldn't be wrong to say that in coming times, EVs could become important transport mode, only that charging infra should be adequate. To talk on current charging technology, we had a discussion with Maxson Lewis, MD of Magenta.
Tell us about current charging Infra in India
EV is the future and huge opportunities exist in this space given that this transition is starting from almost zero. EV charging is just one aspect of the business opportunities. Other opportunities exist like Battery swapping, Charging Software, Installation & maintenance, EV sales, EV services, Charger maintenance and operations…and the list will build up as the ecosystem grows.
Actually, the current EV charging infra (here I refer to public charging infrastructure) is racing ahead of EV sales. This can be seen by the number of EV chargers being installed but lying unutilized. But this is an expected problem – the EV first or EV charging first question will continue for some time now. But the biggest challenge of AC charging in residential areas will be the piece to solve to crack open the adoption of EVs in India – be it 2W, 3W or 4W.
How’s Magenta contributing to charging infra of India?
Magenta has the mandate of Empowering Electric Mobility & Making Electricity Clean. We realized early on, that copy-pasting International EV charging solutions into India will not work. India has unique set of requirements and challenges and unless solved will not really propagate EV adoption in India. Hence magenta has taken the unique position of being an Integrated EV Solutions Company providing Socket to Software products, and Concept to Commissioning services.
A couple of unknown facts about us is that our charging hardware and software is fully designed, developed and manufactured in India. Our Charging software (ChargeGrid) was India’s first fully integrated EV charging Software developed and operational way back in 2018. We also have developed India specific solutions for residential charging which we will be releasing shortly, We have helped the govt of India and its agencies install more than 3.5 MW of EV charging infrastructure in India.
We continue to work on these lines and will be soon launching more such solutions in 2021.
What’s the next big tech innovation we can expect in charging technology?
The general view and expectation in charging technology is in the race for the fastest charging solutions and vehicle battery and BMS technology to absorb such high dispensation rates. But my view for India is different. India is the electric 2W and 3W market and smart standardization of the EV charging protocols for this market is the key. This is not going to be a BIG tech innovation but a small but a very significant game changer if resolved.
Your thoughts on Tesla finally entering India in 2021?
India awaits eagerly for Tesla’s entry and Magenta is keen to see that happen. This will open a different level of discussion and conversation in the Auto ecosystem in India. However, we are obliged not to comment beyond this for now on Tesla or any other OEM entering into India - but ‘More the merrier”.
How do you see the current EV market of India?
Like I always say EV is the future and anyone ignoring it or saying it will take time is not up to date on what’s happening. There is a huge tailwind for EV adoption in India and there are amazing number of challenges to solve. There is a huge focus on this sector both by central and state governments. One example is the FAME-II scheme.
Along with PSU's and government agencies, we believe the government this time will encourage private participation. This subsidy will pull in investments in this EV infrastructure play directly. But the more important way this will encourage investments in EV charging is through the indirect investments in the ecosystem.
But the big insight is that Tier II and Tier III cities is where EV adoption will take off. Infact Tier II and Tier III cities have a huge advantage which is availability of land to setup EV charging infrastructure. In fact, my personal belief is once the adoption of EV is understood on the back of TCO, Tier II and Tier III cities will see a bigger surge of EV's than in the metropolitan cities and that is the place to watch out for.