RACEnergy, founded in 2018 by Arun Sreyas and Gautham Maheswaran, is building a battery swapping network for electric 3-wheelers. The start-up is pursuing a holistic approach to create both the demand and supply by simultaneously working on conversion kits, battery packs, swapping stations.
As a go-to-market strategy, RACEnergy is creating the demand for swapping solutions by retrofitting ICE 3 Wheelers into electric. The Hyderabad based start-up is also working with multiple OEMs to bring out electric 3Ws on its proprietary swapping platform.
We got in touch with Arun Shreyas to find out more about their work and approach towards creating a battery swapping network.
Can you talk about the economics of converting ICE 3 wheelers into EVs and running these vehicles from a driver’s point of view?
RACEenergy provides the most economical solution to go electric and auto-rickshaw drivers can adopt our electric powertrain solution for just ₹60,000. This conversion expense is offset by resultant 40% reduction in operating cost and the driver can achieve break-even in a period of 1.2 years.
Effectively, our solution helps the drivers earn ₹5,000 more every month.
How do you handle the ownership of the battery in case of retrofitted vehicles?
A retrofitted or a new electric vehicle are one and the same when it comes to ownership of batteries on our platform. The battery is owned by us whereas the vehicle and retrofit kit is owned by the driver and they use our batteries as a service. This way, the vehicle owner has no headache of managing the batteries throughout its lifetime.
How do you approach interoperability? How will you ensure that vehicles from other OEMs can use your swapping services?
We believe that there will be 3-4 major battery swapping players in the future. OEMs will either choose one of these platforms or build vehicles to work on multiple platforms.
To give an analogy, a lot of OEMs build engines for at least 3 different fuel variants, petrol, diesel, CNG/LPG. A petrol engine is far different from a diesel engine than what two different swapping platforms can ever be.
We are currently working with a couple of OEMs to bring their vehicles onto our swapping platform. We provide all the technical support required to integrate our batteries into their vehicles while they take care of the vehicle side of development.
‘Standardization of batteries for Swapping operations will hamper innovation and technical advancements’. What are your comments on it?
Completely agree. We are in the early stages of adopting battery swapping as a solution, having barely scratched the surface. Throughout our development cycles, we keep learning from our users and pilot runs and are constantly improving the design, range, performance, efficiency, etc. A standardisation of batteries used in swapping platforms could mean these improvements will be restricted in terms of any major design changes which could be beneficial for the end-user and the market as a whole, especially when cell technologies are ever-evolving in terms of power density, chemistries, energy density, etc.
What’s your opinion on the economic viability of charging and swapping stations?
If we are looking at the cost of setting up the stations per vehicle addressed, the costs for both charging and swapping station would be equal. Compared to a normal charging station a swapping station costs more, however, one swapping station can address tens of vehicles in a day.
Also, a swapping station occupies much lesser parking space than a public charging station would. Setting up a charging station for 100 vehicles would take up a lot of parking space, which is a luxury in India. Whereas, a swapping station would take the space of an ATM room to address the same number of vehicles. This is one of the reasons why we believe swapping is more convenient for commercial vehicles, who spend a lot of time on the road and charging is more convenient for private vehicles, where users can charge at their homes.
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