Sat, 22 Jan 2022 08:23 PM IST
New Delhi | Jagran Auto Desk : As the momentum for electric vehicles gains pace in India, several new start-ups and OEMs are rolling out their products and services. Smart mobility solution company Bounce unveiled its first product Infinity E1 with a unique ‘Battery as a service’ option in December.
Vivekananda Hallekere, CEO & Co-Founder, Bounce talks to Jagran HiTech, and shares his key insights on the EV roadmap and market timeline of Infinity E1 with Nand Kumar Nair, Editor, Jagran HiTech. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Nand Kumar Nair (Editor, Jagran HiTech): What are the biggest threats to the electric 2-wheeler market?
Vivekananda Hallekere: The biggest challenges of buying an EV today is the upfront cost and charging infrastructure. There isn't much expenditure on a petrol-powered scooter other than regular maintenance. On the other hand, the replacement of batteries in EVs is a huge factor. A battery pack starts degenerating after 1,500-2,000 charging cycles where each cycle allows a range of around 75 kilometres. So, an EV battery pack needs to be replaced after every 60,000-70,000 kilometres, which amounts to a cost of at least Rs 40,000.
Currently, the talk is around the low running cost of EVs but not the hefty battery replacement amount. Moreover, several OEMs are importing EV parts from China, which have a lesser shelf life.
Nand Kumar Nair: How is Infinity E1 unique? And kindly share the company action plan on swapping EV batteries.
Vivekananda Hallekere: Bounce has made the best use of resources of the automobile environment in India to manufacture an EV best suited for India. We are empowering customers with the option to buy our Infinity E1 e-scooter with or without the battery pack, which is swappable in nature and can be charged anywhere.
We are setting up warehouses for swapping of fully-charged batteries and these can be located through an app. The Bounce E1 scooter is one of the most affordable ones, which costs around Rs 45,000 without the battery and Rs 68,999 with the battery. The initial subscription fee for battery swapping is Rs 800 and monthly renewal charges are as low as Rs 35.
Nand Kumar Nair: Top speed of Bounce Infinity E1 is 65 kmph. Do you think that's adequate for customers of every age group?
Vivekananda Hallekere: In terms of performance, Bounce Infinity E1 is as punchy as a petrol-powered scooter and the top speed is limited to 65 kmph. We have tested our scooter for over 200 million kilometres, where we found out the average city speed to be less than 50 kmph. So, our product is a good balance of power, performance and pricing in the urban commuter segment.
Nand Kumar Nair: The company commenced bookings for the Bounce Infinity E1 in December at Rs 499. How has been the customer response? When do you plan to start the test rides and deliveries?
Vivekananda Hallekere: Response has been great. We have received bookings from across the country. It's easy to invest in marketing and garner bookings but difficult to meet the delivery deadline. We are focusing on production and deliveries. Test rides for customers start mid-February. We have communicated to the ones who have booked our e-scooter. The deliveries will begin by the end of March. Covid waves are troubling the plans, however, we don't expect any delay.
Nand Kumar Nair: Is the swappable battery infrastructure in place? How do you plan to make it successful?
Vivekananda Hallekere: We have tried and tested the battery swapping facility in Bengaluru and Vijaywada with over 6 lakh units swapped to date. We partnered with local stories, petrol pumps to set up charging kiosks. Expanding the project, we are setting up battery swapping facilities in six major cities.
In case the user is not relying on a battery swapping facility, we request them to buy a battery pack along with the scooter. They can experience the battery swapping infra and at any given point in time, they can sell it back to us if they find the network reliable.
We have set up 200 battery-swapping stations in Bengaluru city where approximately 600 petrol pumps are there. So, we have covered one-third of the touchpoints.
Nand Kumar Nair: As an EV manufacturer, what are your expectations from the upcoming Union Budget?
Vivekananda Hallekere: The PLI scheme introduced was a brilliant move, however, limited to large-scale companies. Start-ups should fall in the ambit of the PLI scheme. Moreover, tax benefits on buying EVs can be looked into. We also seek standardisation of GST on battery swapping business which is currently at 18%.