The electric vehicle (EV) market in India is set to grow significantly in the coming years, with the government’s focus on promoting EVs as a key component of its climate change action plan. According to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, about a third of the vehicles sold in India will be electric by 2030. However, the infrastructure for repairing and servicing EVs & EV batteries is lacking.
Venkat Rajaraman, CEO of Cygni Energy, believes that there is a huge opportunity for the EV repair industry to develop and become the next big thing, especially in the two-wheeler and three-wheeler space.
Key differences between EVs and ICE vehicles with respect to service requirements
- One of the key differences between EVs and traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles is the warranty period. EVs usually come with a longer warranty period compared to ICE vehicles, primarily due to the fact that EVs have fewer moving parts, which means there are fewer things that can go wrong. For example, the Tata Nexon EV comes with an eight-year warranty for the battery and motor, which is much longer than the standard three-year warranty for ICE vehicles.
- Another key difference between the two kind of vehicles is their battery servicing requirement. The traction battery in an EV is a critical component that requires specialized care. The battery pack needs to be regularly inspected and serviced to ensure it is functioning optimally, and any issues need to be addressed immediately.
OEM recommendation for the care of EV battery pack
In general, EV OEMs may recommend an annual or bi-annual inspection of the battery pack, which may include checks for any physical damage, leaks, or abnormal wear, as well as diagnostic testing to ensure the proper functioning of the battery management system and cells. The OEMs may recommend a more frequent inspection if the EV is subjected to extreme conditions, such as high temperatures, frequent fast charging, or heavy use. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to ensure optimal battery performance and safety.
The need to supplement OEM after-sales support with independent EV repair services
Supplementing EV OEMs’ predictive maintenance and after-sales support with independent EV repair services can provide a more comprehensive and accessible range of options for EV owners, contributing to the growth and sustainability of the EV industry.
There are several reasons why the predictive maintenance and after-sales support provided by EV OEMs may need to be supplemented with independent EV repair services, such as:
- The cost-effectiveness of servicing, especially for out-of-warranty parts
- The need for customised solutions
- Service unavailability – there is a long tail of OEMs, especially in the light EV space. Most of them don’t have a widespread network and flexibility in terms of scheduling repairs.
EV service | Issues to watch out for
EV service is a unique landscape to begin with, even without the repair debate. Fixes will require unique tools and equipment, and there are few technicians specialised in EV repair right now, indicating more time and expense to fix them, at least in the near term. As the EV segment grows, service is growing to be a ‘make or break’ part of the ownership experience.
However, there are a few issues that need to be watched out for. EV technicians are more like electricians than mechanics and require specialized knowledge and skills – which means there is a need for standardized training and certification programs to ensure that technicians are properly equipped to handle EVs. A vehicle’s onboard diagnostics (OBD) is useful to grab info from, but with EVs, the mechanics also need access to more telematics information. Data sharing via the VCU and cluster panel is tricky as there is no standard today. EV tires also need special attention. EVs are modestly heavier than the equivalent ICE vehicle. This means that you need tires with a higher weight rating, or they will wear out faster. EV drivers take advantage of the incredible acceleration of their EV for sporty driving and use up rubber faster that way.
EV battery service
In order to maintain the performance of an EV battery, it is important to regularly monitor and repair the battery as needed. However, the lack of infrastructure for EV battery repair services, particularly true for two-wheelers and three-wheelers, is a hindrance to the adoption of EVs in the country.
During the early adoption phases of EVs in India, battery packs were mostly imported, making repairs and replacements difficult and expensive while resulting in longer vehicle downtime and higher costs for consumers. Moreover, imported batteries and BMS make it difficult to source parts and repair services locally. This means that EV owners often have to rely on unlicensed repair shops or third-party service providers, which can compromise the safety and performance of their vehicles. Battery servicing requires specialized knowledge and equipment, which most traditional auto repair shops do not have.
To address these challenges, there is a need for a comprehensive network of repair services for EV batteries in India, particularly for two-wheelers and three-wheelers.
- This network should include authorized repair centres that are equipped with the necessary tools and expertise to repair and replace EV batteries.
- In addition, there is a need for greater collaboration between EV manufacturers and repair service providers.This could include providing training and certification programs for repair technicians, as well as developing standardized protocols for battery repair and replacement.
Meeting EV owners’ expectations
As a repairer of electric vehicles, product knowledge and understanding exactly how the vehicles are built and being able to talk intelligently about them is key. Customers can see most of the things that a technician is doing – they know where the vehicle is at any given time and how much range it has. A sure-shot way to make an EV customer angry is to leave their vehicle at a low state of charge. Repairers need to think about installing charging infrastructure in their shops to charge any EV.
Electric vehicle owners have a different set of expectations from their service centre as compared to ICE vehicle owners. EV owners are more likely to be digital natives who are more comfortable with technology. They use their mobile device as a key to their vehicle and are not afraid to use the internet to educate themselves on how their vehicle should work.
Emergence of multi-brand service outlets
To address the gaps in the market, several multi-brand service outlets with a focus on EV repair have emerged. These outlets provide specialized services for EVs, including battery servicing and repair, and are equipped with the necessary equipment and expertise to handle EVs. Most of these start-ups are working on an online platform where one can search for a mechanic based on EV brand make/model, select a location, and choose a mechanic. The mechanic can provide the needed services, and the customer can track the status using a mobile app.
The number of EV OEMs in the 2W and 3W categories has seen a spectacular rise in the last few years. According to the Vahan dashboard, there are 100+ OEMs selling electric 2Ws and 300+ OEMs selling electric 3Ws in the Indian market. Only a handful of these players are focused on establishing a branded service and repair network for after-sales support. Multi-brand service outlets with due collaboration with OEMs could be a practical way forward.
The growth of the EV market in India presents a huge opportunity for the EV repair industry, particularly in the 2W and 3W segments. With the increasing popularity of EVs and the longer warranty periods, specialized multi-brand outlets that offer battery servicing and repair are set to become the go-to places for EV owners. There is a need for a comprehensive network of authorized repair centres that are equipped with the necessary tools and expertise to repair and replace EV batteries. However, it is important for the industry to address issues such as the lack of standardized training and certification programs for EV technicians and to ensure the safety of EVs so that the growth of the EV repair industry is sustainable in the long run.
About the author
Venkat Rajaraman is the Founder/CEO of Cygni Energy, a leading storage technology company with cutting-edge expertise in EV Batteries (2W & 3W) and Energy Storage Systems (Telecom etc.). Cygni has deployed over 125MWh of storage solutions and powered over 100,000 EVs. Cygni currently has a fully automated battery manufacturing facility at Hyderabad with automated cell sorting, laser welding, cell characterization and End-of-Line (EOL) testing. Cygni’s new Greenfield project is currently underway, which supports a capacity of 1200MWh.
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