Headquartered at Bengaluru, SUN Mobility is one of the leading service providers in the field of universal energy infrastructure and services. With its vision to create a universal network of interoperable energy infrastructure, SUN Mobility has been able to accelerate mass adoption of electric mobility with its one of its kind quick battery swapping model.
In an engaging talk with Nitisha, Anant Badjatya, CEO of SUN Mobility has shared its views on the nascent battery swapping network and its future in India. Edited Excerpts Below.
Q1 Kindly talk about SUN Mobility and its special offerings.
SUN Mobility was founded in 2017 with a shared vision to make electric mobility affordable and accessible to the masses. A global leader in energy mobility solutions for the transportation sector, we provide a fast, inexpensive, and convenient ‘refuelling’ option for electric vehicles. The intent is to propel the nations and the world’s migration to a sustainable, pollution-free future.
As an accelerator in this ecosystem, our vision has been to create a universal network of interoperable energy infrastructure for the mass adoption of electric mobility. We forayed into this space with a clear understanding of the challenges faced by stakeholders that had slowed down the adoption of EVs over the previous years. These include cost concerns, uncertain driving range, long charging time, insufficient infrastructure and network, and technological obsolescence due to a rapid innovation curve.
Our journey so far has been focused on addressing the challenges through our cutting-edge research and solutions. We look at the ecosystem as a whole when considering the problem at hand, and the extent of solutions we can provide. This is an integral part of our innovation culture. The Battery as a Service (BaaS) – a ‘Pay-as-you-go’ system for battery usage – and our end-to-end Mobility as a Service (MaaS) solutions for passenger and commercial two-wheeler and three-wheeler goods vehicles, are examples of how we are addressing the concerns plaguing India. These integrated solutions bring our futureproof battery packs, Quick Interchange Stations, and our Smart Network together. They are a testament to our promise of providing affordable, accessible, interoperable, and future-proof solutions for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in India and across the world.
Q2 What are the major challenges and opportunities in the EV industry? According to you, what steps should be taken by the Indian Government to revolutionize the EV industry?
The EV industry is booming and the government is laying a strong foundation for the future of mobility to be electric as well. There are huge opportunities especially when it comes to electrifying the commercial fleet segment. With the government also offering continued support for the growth of the EV industry through policies, incentives, and budget allocations, the EV industry is coming together in good shape.
However, for the industry to reach its full potential in changing how India commutes, we will need the government’s support to address the below challenges:
- DISCOM-sponsored HT (High Tension) power connections with no additional investment from the applicant (energy operator)
- Financial incentives for all models of charging infrastructure (including battery swapping stations)
- Reducing GST (currently 18%) on EV charging for battery swapping services to bring it on par with 5% GST on EVs.
- Access to real estate at central high-traffic density locations for setting up charging infrastructure
- 24×7 uninterrupted power supply to charging point locations is not available in all locations.
- Availability of quick (within 3 days) EV tariff connections at no additional costs to the applicant.
- Facilities to manufacture charging/ battery swapping components at scale, locally.
- Cost surrounding digital & connectivity solutions for remote management (discovery, payments, and operations management) of charging infrastructure.
As far as India is concerned, two-wheelers and three-wheelers constitute about 85% of the total market share. These vehicles are primarily deployed for last mile deliveries and cover short distances within a region while running a higher frequency of trips. The concerns presented by the industry also pose as opportunities for us to address.
For example, through battery-swapping solutions, we are addressing concerns about operational efficiencies and financial viability, thereby encouraging more fleet owners and operators to switch to electric vehicles. We can also address the opportunities of reduced charging time and real estate requirements for charging infrastructure, making it convenient for users.
Q3 Kindly share your opinion on the Budget announcement with regard to the EV industry.
The Union Budget 2023 reflected the government’s priority to enable a shift to clean and sustainable development. The allocation of ₹ 35,000 crores towards green transition will bolster the country’s focus and transition to green fuels, energy, and building practices and subsequently reduce carbon intensity in the country. The proposals of a zero-carbon emission goal by 2070, viability gap funding for battery storage solutions, and continuation of lower customs duty on lithium-ion cells are other major steps we feel will strengthen local supply chains and accelerate India’s transition to green mobility.
While these proposals reinforce the government’s commitment to EV transition, we as an industry also look forward to hearing more about the Battery Swapping Policy and related subsidies from the government. We also look forward to further updates around rationalizing the GST rate from 18% to 5% on EV batteries.
Q4 How SUN Mobility differentiates itself from other EV companies?
The landscape for commercial transport is rapidly changing in India and battery swapping is the most viable option for fleet operators to ‘refuel’ their electric vehicles on the go. Our company is heavily invested in enabling electric two and three-wheeler vehicles to have access to quick, reliable, and affordable battery-swapping solutions.
Our integrated EV energy platform brings our Smart Battery, swap stations, and Smart Network together. Each Smart Battery is interoperable across 2-wheelers and 3-wheelers and is also future-proof. Every new version of the battery would also work with the existing vehicle model. It can be injected into the network in a seamless manner to ensure everyone has access to technological upgrades. Within the industry, SUN Mobility’s solutions are the easiest to use by drivers.
We offer two battery packs, the most recent addition being the Battery S2.1 launched in January this year. Both our battery packs come with higher intelligence and are connected to our Smart Network IoT Cloud. This feature allows us to have real-time updates on continuous telemetry data that helps track the asset, show the current state of charge, and issue commands based on certain conditions to ensure safety and performance. SUN Mobility’s battery packs also have anti-theft features to prevent misuse and damage to assets. An additional feature that our new model comes with is that S2.1 offers a higher capacity of 45% more range and performance than our existing battery pack, making it more viable for our users.
SUN Mobility’s battery-swapping technology is indigenously built by a team of in-house engineers and EV experts. We have a clear understanding of the challenges EV fleet operators face and continue to build innovative solutions that address bottlenecks such as long-charging time, high upfront costs, and range anxiety in EVs. As a pioneer in this space, we are proud to have created the world’s first global interoperable smart mobility solution for EVs that is financially viable for commercial EV owners and operators.
Q5 Kindly throw some light on the battery swapping policy and how it can help EV users.
The Battery Swapping Policy is poised to be one of the biggest enablers for the industry
The initial stages of the budget proposal focussed on ensuring interoperability between solution providers. However, this received a lot of pushback from the industry as it would limit the innovations in this space. What the EV ecosystem is seeking are policies that can set superior safety standards, implement subsidies for the players in this space, and rationalize the GST rate. By allowing the market to choose the right solution for them, the government will also boost innovation and technological development in this industry.
By strengthening the battery-swapping solution provider ecosystem, we will be addressing concerns of affordability, charging time, future-proofing, battery safety, etc. For example, electric vehicles that function on swappable batteries are 40-50% more affordable when compared to the ones with fixed batteries.
Q6 Kindly talk about your upcoming products and their special features.
We recently launched two new products at the Auto Expo – SwapX and Battery S2.1.
SWAP X, is a compact battery dispensing station that is designed and developed to facilitate a much wider geographic reach and increase network density in each city. One of the key highlights of SWAP X is its plug-and-play feature. It comes with 3 docks, is easy to set up, and only requires a 15-amp socket and a set-up space of up to 6 square feet. It has 3 onboard computers that are always connected to SUN Mobility’s Smart Network and comes with safety measures, including smoke detection, surge and shock protection, an onboard SOS button, and advanced thermal management, to name a few. SwapX is targeted at owners of establishments like pharmacy chains, garages, warehouses, department stores, etc. who can easily set up and manage Swap Points™ from the convenience of their establishments. For example, a grocery store owner can easily set up a SWAPX either inside or outside their store. The location will be earmarked as one of the Swap Points™ for people to use, and the owner becomes a part of SUN Mobility’s franchise network. They can also stack up to 5 units together if they wish to expand their offering.
The recently launched Battery S2.1 is a lightweight, Smart Battery that offers 45% more range than our existing version. This is the result of our brand’s intention to continuously innovate and evolve our battery packs for improved capability while ensuring that it is future-proofed and interoperable. SUN Mobility’s Smart Batteries are swappable, modular, interoperable, upgradeable, small, and light. The technology inside the battery ensures that it is always performing as expected during drives and remains connected to the Smart Network IoT Cloud. Through this connection, it can send continuous telemetry data that helps track the asset, show the current state of charge, and issue commands based on certain conditions to ensure safety and performance.
Q7 How was the year 2022 in terms of business and what will be your future marketing strategies?
2022 was the year of partnering with several companies who share our vision, and further strengthening our ecosystem of fleet users, OEMs, distribution partners, and technology providers. The list of our partners includes companies like Amazon, Hero Electric, Greaves Cotton, Omega Seiki, discoms like DTL, BSES Yamuna Power Limited, among others. We also expanded our presence in the cities we operate in, inaugurated a new production facility, to increase our capacity and meet the rising demand, and rolled out new offerings that would bolster mass adoption of EVs in the country. We have deployed 300 Swap Points™ in 18 cities across India, powering over 68 million km and over 3.7 million swaps so far.
With a vision to accelerate EV adoption, we look forward to announcing more remarkable partnerships with credible players. We will also be entering into pilot trials outside India. We are working towards expanding our battery swapping network to provide 500 Swap PointsTM, which can enable over 30,000 battery swaps per day by the end of March 2023.
This year would definitely mark the further growth and expansion of SUN Mobility, as we march towards transforming the way India and the world commute. Our next big milestone would be to power 1 million EVs by 2025.