For Noida's E-Rickshaw operators, there is a new, fast and convenient charging option, that runs around battery swaps. Providing lithium Ion batteries, the rent- a- battery model from E-Chargeup solutions seeks to create a healthy charging market.
Charging stations for the many thousands of E-rickshaws already plying the roads of Indian cities may not be coming fast enough, but that hasn’t deterred startups like E-Chargeup Solutions to build their own business models around the opportunity.
E-Chargeup Solutions, a company that has opted for the franchise model to develop charging stations, has inaugurated its new battery swapping station for E-Rickshaws in Noida, a business and residential suburb in the National Capital Region. E-Rickshaws have been an obvious target for the firm, thanks to their overwhelming dominance of the EV segment till date, with estimates pegging almost 30,000 plus E-rickshaws that are actively running in the NCR region itself.
On the occasion, E-Chargeup Solutions Founder and CEO Varun Goenka said that “Battery swapping is an idea whose time has come,” “Such stations are a quick and effective way for E-Rickshaws to operate without the loss of time in charging batteries. They don’t lose fares because the batteries in their vehicles can be replaced quickly and their used ones are left behind to charge for others to use. This is the ultimate expression of a sharing economy in which assets are shared to facilitate business operations.
According to Goenka, the first BSS has been operational over the past six months with 35 registered e rickshaws covering 6000 kilometers daily on advanced indigenously developed Lithium Ion batteries from Greenfuel Energy Solutions, a company focused on alternative fuels and transport. On checking in the market, we discovered that the firm is charging Rs 220 for a single swap in a 12 hour period, and Rs 400 for unlimited charges or battery swaps for the same e rickshaw in a 24 hour period.
Goenka added his company was targeting the huge 1.7 million E-Rickshaws market through this unique franchise model, where it offers battery swapping and related services to rickshaw owners. He added that there was an inherent efficiency in the model because there is no waiting interval for charging the batteries, a much better range, a hundred percent increase in driver revenue, and reduction in battery weight from 120 to 28 kilograms. This ensures smooth running of the rickshaws and zero maintenance cost. All very valid points, though the receptivity of the market to the charging cost being charged remains to be seen.
On the existing lead acid batteries, that still power most E Rickshaws, these are real issues for the operators, through some of them clearly have a system of quick battery swapping in place, although in an unorganised way. More importantly, based on informal discussions with rickshaw drivers, it seems that typical charging costs paid vary a lot, from a low of Rs 80 for 6 hours of charging to Rs 150 for overnight charging. Thus, the extra cost of the new solution will definitely call for some appraisal by owners.
Everything could eventually boil down to the earnings these e-rickshaws make in a typical hour, as the time saved, better batteries and convenience will certainly be evaluated on that metric. Most drivers claim daily earnings in the range of Rs 1000-Rs 1500, with about Rs 300 set aside for charging and parking arrangements.
Akshay Kashyap, GreenFuel Managing Director and provider of batteries to E-Chargeup Solutions, said that for E rickshaw ecosystem, battery swapping is right for these vehicles. “This basically means that an E rickshaw owner can go in for a battery swapping option in which he goes to a charging station and replaces his discharged battery with a new, fully charged battery in under one minute and can be back on the go, without sacrificing income.”
For the E-rickshaw owner, becoming a part of the swapping network will require some paperwork, as the firm has tied to protect the risk of handing out batteries without a security deposit. So there is a specific requirement for detailed documentation, including Aadhaar cards.
Inaugurating the facility, dubbed “icentre,” proprietor and franchisee Baldev Joshi said it was the first battery swapping center and will foster an increase in the use of ecofriendly E-Rickshaws. Vikas Joshi, the co-owner added: “On inauguration day itself we registered eleven customers for our daily battery swapping subscription plan.”
The battery supplier firm, Greenfuel Energy is a homegrown company, specializing in energy solutions for sustainable mobility in the domestic market. GreenFuel claims to be the first company to introduce NGV filling systems in cars as well as automatic cylinder valves, and the only company to do complete fuel delivery and storage systems for low-floor buses in India.