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‘Sale of electric vehicle sans battery can cut initial ownership cost’

Rissala Electric Motors recently forayed into electric vehicles to cash in on the burgeoning market.

Published: 22nd October 2019 12:47 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd October 2019 12:47 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Rissala Electric Motors recently forayed into electric vehicles to cash in on the burgeoning market. The company, which has already set up three production facilities, is currently considering setting up a lithium-ion battery manufacturing unit, besides a series of battery charging stations with solar panels across cities. Produced under the brand name Evolet, it will soon start exports to Asia Pacific and Middle East markets, tells CEO Squadron Leadre Prerana Chaturvedi in an interview with Sunitha Natti:

When did the company start operations? What does it offer?
Rissala Electric Motors operates in various business verticals such as hospitality, wellness, lifestyle, sports and progressive agriculture. The company was incorporated in June 2019 and registered the brand ‘Evolet’ in August. Products were formally launched in September, while commercial operations began in October. The team is led by veteran defence officers with over two decades experience in providing electric scooters and motorcycles for the armed forces, cantonment and air bases. The team is further strengthened with talents joining from IITs and German, French and Italian scientists on technological front.

What is Evolet’s USP, given that electric variants are mushrooming?
Evolet offers a look into the future of world-class electric vehicles with an eye towards sustainability and a range of offerings including new-age electric scooters, motorcycles, quad bikes, ambulances and buses. Our manufacturing facilities are situated in Haryana, Hyderabad and Chennai, with a total of 13 products across segments.
Chennai-based AMS Electric Mobility Pvt Ltd is the chief engineering and design house of our electric buses, and holds ARAI certification and all homologation under its name. Further, AMS and REM will produce electric buses to meet the requirements of government agencies. We have heavily invested in building IT infrastructure along with R&D. Most of our components in the power train segment have been designed with German technology, while our products go through stringent tests and are approved by ARAI, ICAT and all regulatory bodies. Many top models are IoT-enabled, giving riders information on battery health, charging status, and security tracking on the phone using GPS. Efficient after-sales service, quick availability of spare parts, and light-weight swappable batteries are Evolet’s topmost strategies for ensuring high customer satisfaction.

As the company evolves, what growth hurdles do you foresee?
High infrastructure and set-up costs are key barriers. Besides, initial ownership cost, lack of understanding about life cycle savings, lack of investments in EV manufacturing, supply constraints, fluctuating raw material prices, non-existent public charging infrastructure, higher capacity batteries and import duty on batteries are some other crucial challenges. In general, EV acceptability as a preferred vehicle rather than an optional vehicle and awareness for end-users is lacking.

What are the growth opportunities in India vs other emerging economies?
Government has been pushing EVs with incentives to buyers and manufacturers. The real impetus came in 2019-20 budget wherein import duty reduction and GST reduction were announced. Income tax waiver of up to `1.5 lakh on EV loan is upfront incentive and will boost financing. But the issue of initial high cost will remain as a deterrent and companies and financial institutions have to offer innovative finance schemes. Most interesting would be leasing of battery.
Battery cost is almost 30-40 per cent of the total vehicle cost. If companies can sell vehicles without battery, it will reduce initial ownership cost thus making it lucrative. Battery leasing can be an additional source of revenue and won’t burden consumers as costs are at par with monthly fuel bills.

How much did you invest so far? Any fresh investments in the pipeline?
We invested in R&D and building IT infrastructure to support our complete plant production at Haryana, Hyderabad and Chennai. We earmarked `150 crore for pan-India operations and production and we are making the investments in a phased manner.

Can you throw some light on production capacity?
Our Bilaspur facility has a capacity to produce 3 lakh two-wheelers per annum and a built-up area of 1 lakh square feet. Both Hyderabad and Chennai facilities are fully-equipped to churn out 1,000 buses per annum. We are establishing pan-India network with distribution, sales, service, and customer support network is being set up in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh. We also plan to set up a Lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility, besides setting up a series of battery charging stations with solar panels across cities. Evolet has also identified key export markets within Asia Pacific and the Middle East and plans to start exporting products by 2020.

In terms of tax structure — rebates and concessions — is it encouraging for consumers?
Under the `10,000-crore FAME scheme, subsidy on EVs are given to three and four-wheelers for commercial and fleet applications. However, for two-wheelers it’s extended for personal usage. For electric two-wheelers below `1.5 lakh, applicable subsidy will be `20,000-40,000 per vehicle. This can be claimed by the manufacturer and transferred to the customer. In case of electric three-wheelers priced at `5 lakh, subsidy is about `50,000, while for electric cars priced at `15 lakh, the subsidy can go up to `1.5 lakh.



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