Convincing real estate owners is a hurdle in setting up EV charging stations

Telematics Wire in a discussion series on EV ecosystem in India is reaching out to startups, policy makers and industry leaders. Recently it had a free-wheeling discussion with Akash Jain, Founder, ZEVpoint to explore how startups are doing in EV charging sector.

Q: Akash, to begin with, can you please introduce yourself and ZEVpoint?

I am co-founder of ZEVpoint. ZEVpoint is an EV charging solutions company that started off in January 2019. The company primarily started off as a public charging operator, or a CPO, what we call. We are in that business. Six to eight months ago, we started offering solutions for private use, business use; a D2C segment. Apart from that we believe ourselves to be a technology company where we are doing a lot of innovation on different solutions where we can smoothen the process for electric vehicle charging.

Akaash Jain, Founder, ZEVpoint

Q: What inspired you to launch ZEVpoint?

The inspiration to be honest, it started off in 2018. I was on a trip to Canada, visiting a friend of mine and he had a Tesla there. I had heard about Tesla, but never driven it. So while traveling around with him in Tesla and experiencing an electric vehicle, it came to my mind that electric vehicles is definitely the future. It has changed way beyond what it was 10-15 years ago when we had not so good electric cars. When I came back to India, I did research on what is the situation in India. And I realized that the Indian government has started coming up with a lot of initiatives encouraging EVs. Car manufacturers were planning launch of new electric cars. Though at that time nothing was there. So just banking on those plans and realising that if electric vehicles is the future, then electric vehicle charging is a must.

Q: What are the kind of challenges you faced in setting up ZEVpoint?

I will talk about practical business challenges. There were certain regulatory challenges, but from business point, the first challenge was public awareness.

Second challenge was standardisation. We faced it in the four-wheeler segment, and we are moving towards same situation in two-wheeler segments. It was tough for us to decide on what front do we have to go.

Then as CPOs, when we were operating and finalizing locations; getting permissions to set up charging stations was a challenge. Real estate is a prime thing for EV charging stations where there is visibility. Convincing real estate owners that EV charging stations is good business for them and it will bring them additional income, was also a challenge for us.

Q: What is the unique value proposition with ZEVpoint charging product?

We have multiple SKUs. We have the Swift Max which is in 22 kW, we have the Swift Mini which is a portable charger. Apart from that, we have another Flex series. Swift Pro is a good start in D2C segment.

When we talk about what was unique value proposition, it is a very convenient to use. Many of the existing chargers requires people to use a mobile application or RFID card. We have tried to remove such roadblocks wherever we felt there was inconvenience for customers. The process for Swift Pro was simple. You could adjust the current if your house has a different power requirement. People do not have the same kind of electricity load. Sometimes there’s power fluctuations or voltage fluctuations. So in our product, we ensured that all these things were taken care of. Additionally we have a safety chip, which ensures that if there is any power fluctuations, or the power supply is not adequate, the charger still does not have any problem, it continues to function. We started introducing smaller technology changes. Our chargers are like, just plug the car and charging will automatically start. You don’t need to go through a process of using an RFID every time.

Within the apartments we realised that your parking is accessible by other people, so we introduced a password. Whenever you have to use a device, you just need to enter a password and you can use your charger.

We are working on V2G, where in case the supply has to go back to the grid, we can do that.

Q: Any notable partnership or collaborations for the growth of ZevPoint?

 When we started we focussed on hotels and hospitality industry. We believe that these are ideal place for charging solution. We tied up with hotels like ITC Fortune, Royal Orchid, Ramada and we have set up 20-25 charging stations at each of these hotels.

We also have B2B partnerships where we are setting up charging stations at office complexes. The entire office complexes are being taken up and we are setting up 100 to 500+ charging stations in one go for employees.

Q: Do you face any challenges in terms of regulatory policies or any views you have on the policies?

Every state government has a different policy. Implementation is a challenge for them. The government is making an effort to introduce policies, but implementation remains a challenge, be it discounted rates for charging, be it the accessibility of charging stations, like policies are there that every charging station needs to be there every few kilometers and funds would be available for that. But in practical situaiton, that is a challenge. I think as we move ahead, things will smoothen out. Apart from that, in the two-wheeler segment, we still feel standardization is a challenge. Every two-wheeler manufacturer is coming out with a different charging standard, which again affects the growth of the industry. So if a CPO like us or a charging station provider like us wants to provide a charging facility, it’s difficult.

Q: With reference to V2G are you in touch with any DISCOM?

We did discuss, but I think, they keep waiting for the policies to change. Also many people in DISCOM are not aware about V2G. But looking at solar, where something similar is already working and we do have power going back to the grid. So, it needs to be extended to the electric vehicle industry.

Q: What is your long-term vision of ZEVpoint?

If we generally look at the long-term vision, we define our company as a simple thing on three A’s affordability, accessibility, and availability. And based on this, we are developing solutions.

In long term, electric vehicles are definitely here to stay there. It is environment friendly, and I think we are on the right track. When I say we, the country is on the right track with respect to electric vehicles.

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