Electric vehicle charging stations being setup by startups are playing a significant role in growth of EV. Availability of space, power supply for fast charging and waiting for customers has not dampened the growth of EV charging netowrk.
Arjun D Pawar, Founder at Nikon EV Charging Station shares his views on how he moved into the EV charging space, which has given him very encouraging results so far.
Q: Can you in short introduce Nikol EV Charging Station?
Nikol EV charging station started in August 2021. We are into fast charging infrastructure. Till now we have established 3000 charging stations and our focus is to have fast charging on highways. Home charging will be for 90% of two wheeler in India and for some four wheeler slow charging.
Our idea is to enable an infra where people can spend leisure time during their charging. Our charging stations will make sure that they have access to food, shade, restaurants etc. If we do not give these facilities, customer will not prefer coming to such charging stations, when they driving electric vehicles on long route.
Q: What is the footprint of your charging stations?
We have 3000 chargers. These are a mix of AC and DC. Some of the chargers are established by integrating charging stations for other CPUs as well.
Our presence is in Western India- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Goa. We expect to go pan-India level in coming 2-3 years. Our target is to expand from Gujarat to Rajasthan and then to Delhi. Similarly from Goa to Karnataka. Customer want an accessible and available network. For an example if I am leaving from Mumbai to Delhi, I want charging station of a single network after every 100 to 150 kilometers. If my stations are not there, then people will hesitate downloading my application or using my charging station.
We will be establishing DC network on highways. In cities we will focus more on the AC network, where people can charge their vehicle during while they are in gym or maybe shopping mall etc.
Q: Are these charging station owned by you or you have business partners?
We have both models. We have a franchise model, the individual brings his land as investment and we set up the EV charging station. Majority of our fast charging stations is under franchise model.
Secondly, at restaurant or recreational areas, we set up EV charging stations. Also, if a fleet owner want their vehicles to come at our charging stations, we open captive charging station for the fleet.
We are also coming up with hybrid charging stations which will be open to fleet and customers as well. In Pune, where we are based, we are coming up with a station which will be accessible to the public and fleet company.
It’s been 2 years since we have been operating on this franchise model. And we have almost got more than 40% of new orders coming up from our franchise owner.
Q: Are you also looking for any partnership or collaborations for the growth and success of Nicol EV charging stations?
EV usage is growing and you can’t sustain and grow without associating or collaborating with other companies. Collaborating with each other is the way forward. Everyone in EV charging business needs to come together and work together.
We are open for collaboration with other CPOs, hotel chains, restaurant chains, government and other for installing charging station. With fleet operators its a win win for both, they need charging infrastructure and we look for consumption.
Collaboration between CPOs is also gaining popularity. Here, my charge point will be visible on other CPOs application and their charge point will be visible on my application. Hence a customer need not download many applications.
Government is also trying to come up with a single application which will have all the CPOs on a single platform. So that a single application will give access to all the public charging infrastructure.
Q: Are your charging stations generating sustainable revenue?
Our charging stations are generating good revenue. But, not say every charging station. More than 40% of our franchise owners, have requested for another charger. Revenue they are generating is good enough. For some of our franchisees they could get return on investment in two years.
Charging business depends on location and demand.
For captive charging stations its the strength of electric fleet.
Our charging stations are generating revenue and we expect this to increase every month, every year.
Q: What should come first- EV or charging stations?
In January 2022, we had set up a charging station in a remote place in Maharashtra called Kanuka. There were just two electric four wheelers at that time when we set up that charging station. When the station was opened, 10 electric cars were sold by Tata Motors showroom in the next two weeks itself. We saw many situations like this later on.
People are ready to buy vehicles. But they were waiting for the charging infrastructure.
Q: What policy change you think can help in the growth of EV charging station?
For electric vehicle industry, government in terms of central and state governments are doing everything they can.
Particularly for the charging industry, they need to look at load availability. If I am setting up a dual gun 60 kilowatt charger, this itself requires 7 to 8 lakhs of investment in electrical infrastructure. Besides the time which is spend in setting up the electrical power infra.
Government can come up with a policy, where required load is available for a subsidy. Or, you do not need to pay for electrical transformer for up to say 60 kilowatt or 100 kilowatt load. Some sates have such provision, like Delhi.