Mohanakrishnan P, a seasoned expert in the EV industry with over 10 years of experience, is the Chief Growth Officer at 82Volt, a leading electric vehicle  charging solutions provider in India. In a recent Q&A Session with the India eMobility Show, Mr Mohanakrishnan shared his insights on the present status of the EV industry in India, the role of government initiatives and startups in driving EV adoption, and the future of EV charging infrastructure in the country.

Mohanakrishnan spoke about the role of startups in the EV industry, and how they are using innovative solutions to address the challenges of EV adoption. He concluded by discussing the future of EV charging infrastructure in India, and how it can be developed to meet the needs of a growing EV fleet.

#IES: Can you provide a comprehensive overview of the present status of the electric vehicle industry within India, including the current market size, growth trends, and the diversity of EVs available in the market?

Mr Mohanakrishnan: Transportation in India contributes 14% of CO2 emissions (ICCT 2022), with 90% of energy used by road transport (Hagemann et al., 2020) and 50% of oil demand (IEA 2021). Amidst economic growth, addressing energy use and decarbonisation is vital.

India's EV industry is promising, with 1.2 million EV units sold and forecasts of $200 billion investments by 2030. The government's ambitious goals envision EV sales penetration targets of 30% for private cars, 70% for commercial vehicles, and 80% for two and three-wheelers by the year 2030.

Government schemes like FAME incentivize EV adoption. Increasing buyer awareness, advancements in battery and charging technologies, automakers participation, and green charging infrastructure are enhancing the appeal of EV.

The Indian EV market is diversifying rapidly and includes E3Ws and E2Ws, which are cost-effective and growing in popularity. Studies suggest that lifetime TCO of E3Ws & E2W are already 20% - 70% cheaper than their ICE equivalents. E4Ws on the rise and expected to rise to 30% of all 4 wheeler sales. E-Buses are being promoted with a $7 billion scheme to deploy a fleet of 10,000 electric buses and charging infrastructure across 169 cities within the next decade. The heavy logistics sector is just starting to tap into the potential of EVs.

Overall, EV industry rapid progress is driven by support, awareness, technology advancements, and infrastructure.

#IES: Government initiatives often play a pivotal role in shaping industries. Could you elaborate on the significance of governmental efforts in driving the adoption of electric vehicles in India?

Mr Mohanakrishnan: The EV ecosystem, encompassing materials, supply chain, and operational infrastructure, policies, and stakeholders possesses distinct characteristics compared to ICE vehicles. The unique characteristics of the EV ecosystem demand robust governmental support for a seamless transition and a distinctive global EV position.

These initiatives are significant due to several key reasons:

  • Rules like Battery Waste Management, Vehicle Scrappage Policy, and schemes like FAME, Production Linked Incentive create a roadmap for both manufacturers and consumers to embrace EVs.
  • Incentives, subsidies, tax rebates, road tax exemptions, domestic manufacturing etc help bridge the price gap between EV and ICE vehicles and encourage adoption.
  • Public awareness campaigns such as “Shoonya – Zero Pollution Mobility” and “Go Electric" campaigns create awareness about the benefits of EVs, including reduced emissions, lower operating costs, and enhanced energy security.

Governmental support boosts investor confidence in the EV sector. It signals stability, which is critical for attracting investments in EV manufacturing, technology development, and charging infrastructure.

These efforts align with global sustainability trends, enhancing India's image and opening doors for international collaborations. Overall, government initiatives bridge gaps, reduce costs, create jobs, and shape a greener mobility future.

#IES: How do startups and entrepreneurs actively mould and influence the evolving dynamics of the electric vehicle industry in India?

Mr Mohanakrishnan: Absolutely, startups and entrepreneurs are indeed playing a transformative role in shaping the electric vehicle (EV) industry in India. The areas they actively contribute to the industry's transformation:

  • Subscription-based models such as eMaaS offer flexible access that aligns with changing consumer preferences for sustainability and convenience.
  • EV-focused ride-sharing and rental platforms optimise vehicle utilisation and provide a taste of EV experience without ownership commitments.
  • Innovative charging solutions, including fast-charging stations, peer-to-peer charging networks, battery swapping services enhance accessibility.
  • Industry 4.0 / Digital Twins for faster and sustainable EV development, creating virtual replicas that revolutionise automaker operations.
  • Design EVs for urban landscapes, addressing charging limitations, traffic congestion, and diverse terrains unique to the Indian market. ○ Leveraging AI, data analytics, and IoT to optimise battery performance, predictive maintenance, and user experiences, reducing TCO.
  • Advancements in battery management systems and solid-state batteries, and battery waste management contributing to higher energy density and localised manufacturing.

In essence, startups and entrepreneurs are driving a sustainable and cleaner mobility future in India through innovative solutions and collaborations.

#IES: What is the present status of EV charging infrastructure in India? Does it currently meet the demand, or are there insufficiencies that need to be addressed?

Mr Mohanakrishnan: The present status of EV charging infrastructure in India reveals a mixture of encouraging advancements and a host of challenges. Approximately 11000 - 11500 operational charging stations in the country. However, the average ratio of 200 EVs for every public charging station is negligible compared to our global counterparts.

By 2030, India is estimated to require nearly one and half million charging stations. The nation's ambition is to establish charging stations every 40 to 60 km along highways.

There are several insufficiencies and challenges that persist:

  • Charging infrastructure is unevenly spread, leaving gaps in coverage in rural areas. Incentivizing investment coupled with strategic planning can help address this imbalance.
  • Public charging stations remain quite limited. Developing well-planned fast-charging corridors on highways is critical to address range anxiety and facilitate long-distance travel.
  • Seamless charging experiences require standardised charging protocols and compatibility between chargers and EVs.
  • The utilisation of charging stations varies, with some overburdened and others underutilised. Data analytics can optimise station placement and usage.

Addressing these challenges requires a strategic approach, collaboration between public and private sectors, and continued investment.

#IES: In the nascent stages of India's electric vehicle revolution, how significant of a role do you believe EV charging stations play in accelerating the adoption of EVs throughout the country?

Mr Mohanakrishnan: Successful EV adoption relies on robust charging infrastructure and tailored policy frameworks that suit local contexts. "Range anxiety," the fear of inadequate charging options, underscores the need for dependable and extensive charging networks.

While incentives impact adoption, investing in charging infrastructure proves more effective. Charging capacity reduces demand for larger batteries and optimises battery sizes ( thus bringing down the EV cost).

As India prioritises carbon reduction, a robust EV infrastructure becomes vital. However, charging stations are just one facet of a complex puzzle. Numerous elements must converge to build an effective ecosystem:

  • Reliable Infrastructure including Charger Management Software, Payment systems, Discovery applications, and backend support ensure consistent access.
  • Business Models such as Charging-as-a-Service, Leasing of chargers by eMobility Service Providers and enterprises help amortise the initial infrastructure cost.
  • Artificial Intelligence can optimise charging patterns, manage energy demands, predict demand, and integrate with intelligent grid systems for optimised operations. Integrating renewable energy generation, energy storage, and smart grid technologies to create an eco-friendly transportation ecosystem.

Diverse charging solutions cater to different EV types and needs, with models like home and fast-charging stations coexisting. Effective planning should account for parameters to select the right charging approach, ensuring a seamless EV transition.

#IES: How can events like the India eMobility Show contribute to the advancement and promotion of the electric vehicle sector in India?

Mr Mohanakrishnan: Events like the India eMobility Show play a pivotal role in advancing India's EV sector by providing a platform for networking, knowledge sharing, innovation showcase, and collaboration.

Through informative sessions, workshops, and exhibitions, the event raises awareness, disseminates knowledge, and fosters partnerships among industry experts, policymakers, businesses, and consumers. It accelerates EV adoption by showcasing cutting-edge technologies, facilitating networking opportunities, and engaging policymakers in policy dialogues.

The event empowers startups with exposure, funding opportunities, and mentorship, driving innovation. It also brings global best practices, thought leadership, and media coverage to the forefront, contributing to public awareness and discourse.

By offering insights, fostering collaborations, and catalysing investment, the India eMobility Show propels the growth and transformation of the EV sector in the country.