Without a dense and reliable charging network, there can’t be many electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads. To scale up India’s transition to EVs in a meaningful way, a well-developed charging infrastructure is essential. The New Delhi-based EV charging infrastructure startup, eVolt, is working to boost adoption of EVs by making charging accessible and ending range anxiety.
Founded in 2019 by Sarthak Shukla, eVolt uses a well-connected smart charging network that is built via strategic partnerships with public and private property owners.
Through a range of intelligent wallboxes, floor-mounted and portable AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current) charging solutions for residences, offices, and fleets, eVolt aspires to help individuals, businesses and governments set up EV charging points where owners can ‘refuel’ to unlock longer distances. With a vision to make future EV drivers feel more confident going longer distances, it installs and maintains premium fast AC and DC EV chargers across public and private properties, including hospitality chains, shopping and entertainment centres, frequently-visited public spaces, residences, workplaces and other drivable destinations.
“While completing my masters in the United Kingdom, I got the opportunity to author a thesis paper that analysed EV adoption rates there in 2017. Working on my thesis also made me realise the enormous potential of EVs and the extensive need for charging networks across the country. I’d say the bug to develop a robust charging infrastructure was instilled in me there. Being at the right place at the right time, I was fortunate to witness the tremendous growth of the EV sector along with the exponential increase in the deployment of chargers across major European routes, and that motivated me to take the green route back home,” says Sarthak, in a conversation with The Better India, earlier this week.
Charging Your Vehicles at Home
Broadly, eVolt’s EV chargers range from residential to fleet, workplace, public and portable chargers. They are primarily developed in Europe through their technological partners, who have successfully installed and sold over 10,000 chargers across the continent.
“The chargers are future-proof and come equipped with various smart features such as smart scheduling, while also providing electrical protection to allow easy plug and play charging at home. A major challenge we have faced in enhancing the adoption rate of EVs in India, which is still low, is a significant knowledge barrier within both the consumer and stakeholder communities. The real estate sector plays a key role, and for them to be more accepting towards the installation of chargers would be crucial for how quickly and widely charging infrastructure develops in the country. The government should try to incentivise real estate developers, who have sizable parking lots so that they can install charging stations to boost EV penetration and make their properties EV-ready,” explains Sarthak.
Their most affordable residential chargers start from Rs 45,000 and depending on the smart features, the price can go up to Rs 2.5 lakh. Getting the chargers installed through eVolt is simple. Consumers can simply fill up their contact form on e-volt.in or drop in an email after which their engineers do a thorough site survey and advise them on the type of charger to be installed based on their requirement and vehicle. This is followed by getting the charger installed through their team of experienced site engineers, which roughly takes a day.
But what should consumers look out for before seeking to install an EV charging station at their residence? Sarthak explains a few important physical and electrical observations made by his startup during their initial site survey before setting up a charger in a residential space.
“As a consumer, you have to ask yourself some key questions. Is there availability of a dedicated parking lot? Can the charger be wall mounted or will it need to be floor mounted? Other electrical observations such as available sanctioned load at the property, input voltage, etc need to be enquired about. It is also advised to apply for a separate electricity meter from the DISCOM only for the EV charging purpose to avail government incentives. We are happy to guide clients through all this so they can focus on a comfortable charging experience,” he claims.
The startup’s charging stations come in different configurations. eVolt’s AC chargers are either wall or floor mounted and range from 3.3kW for slow AC Charging to 22kW for Fast AC Charging.
“With more and more 4-wheeler automobile manufacturers adapting to the AC Type-2 (IEC 62196-2), we believe the standard for AC charging in India will also eventually be Type-2 for AC domestic/office space/commercial charging. Keeping the same in mind, most of our residential/commercial EV chargers come equipped with a Type-2 port. However, we also provide AC-001 chargers. For example, EVs like the Tata Tigor or the Mahindra eVerito come equipped with the AC-001 port, while modern EVs such as the Tata Nexon, MG ZS EV or the Hyundai Kona use the Type-2 port for AC charging,” says Sarthak.
Although charging needs and speeds differ across different 4-wheelers when it comes to AC charging, the 7.4kW AC Wallbox chargers for residential/commercial spaces takes around 6-8 hours for a 100% charge on average — perfect for an overnight charge or a full charge during work hours. The charging power can be adjusted from 1.4kW to 22kW using eVolt’s backend systems that come along with the chargers. eVolt offers DC chargers as well.
The fastest charger in their range is the 50kW DC Charger that takes around 50 minutes for a full charge, which again differs for every vehicle. For DC charging they offer 25kW wall-mounted DC chargers along with Floor-mounted 50kW DC chargers, although this is only meant for public charging utilities and not residential units.
For a mass-market like India, frequent upgrading of user technology becomes a challenge, which is why it’s imperative to pick the most advanced tech from the get-go.
“Through our technological partners from Europe, whom we are not in a position to reveal because of certain legal concerns, the chargers have been tried, tested and improved over the years in a much more mature market, which gives our chargers an edge. While being smart, with features such as dynamic load balancing, our chargers are also a preferred choice of architects and designers thanks to their aesthetically pleasing exterior design and finish, making them ideal for residential and commercial complexes like hotels, shopping centres and corporate parking spaces,” he adds.
At this moment, the startup is assembling these chargers for primarily lithium-ion batteries in India using their locally trained workforce. However, the key components are primarily being manufactured by their technological partners in Europe.
Industry is running on ‘survival mode’
“The pandemic certainly has had its impact, slowing everything down and shifting the public’s and industry’s priorities to survival mode. At the same time, it is also good to see more awareness among consumers regarding clean air and we hope that this will lead to the consumers taking an eco-friendlier approach while considering their next personal mobility purchase, which will ultimately boost EV adoption. There is still a long road to transitioning to EVs given the sheer size of our automobile sector, and our startup team of eight core employees are ready to play our part in the same. We will soon be coming up with new installations across leading educational institutions and also at properties by major players in the hospitality sector in the country,” claims Sarthak.
“In our early days of operations, we successfully facilitated more than 15 installations across private residential sites, and are proud to say that we have several big projects in the pipeline for when restrictions are eased and normalcy is restored,” he adds.
Building a network of chargers to support the upcoming surge of EVs on the roads and ending range anxiety has its own opportunities. It will, however, require a collaborative synergy between all stakeholders from the industry to make it possible.
Entities like eVolt India cannot do this alone. A collaboration between public governments, such as local municipalities, and private entities, including utility companies, automakers and EV charging companies is required.
“Although we are still currently in the chicken-and-egg phase when it comes to the vehicles and the charging infrastructure here in India, it is heartening to see things starting to gain momentum on this front,” he concludes.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)