EMobility+ interviewed Mr. Inderveer Singh, Founder & CEO, EVage and got to understand about the company’s background, evolution and journey. Mr Singh talked about the way EVage is contributing to the future of mobility and its expansion & growth plans. We also came to know how EVage is solving the logistics problems of congestion, pollution and different mobility needs of different states.
Please tell our readers about the background and evolution of EVage.
After spending over a decade in the automotive sector, I could spot a clear global trend, wherein mobility was going to change forever using technology, much like the shift happened to the automobile from the horse cart a century back.
This change in technology (ICE to EV) opened a very brief and small window of opportunity for a startup to enter the ring with existing heavyweights. We realised very quickly that if we had to survive in this game, we had to change the rules of the game and that’s where our team comes in with over 50 patents and champions in the aviation sector. We realized that the cars of the future need to be built like the way airplanes are built – light, durable, agile with a big data layer.
We started our R&D process in 2014, at a time when there were literally no players in the electric four-wheeler category. The electric mobility supplier ecosystem was missing. It was our conscious decision to make aerospace inspired structures, and the people in our team are scientists from the international aerospace industry. We studied what India would look like and saw there was a technology convergence with the emergence of ecommerce. This segment would need transportation the most and had a huge opportunity, which is where we decided to focus on creating sustainable clean transportation. For the past 7 years we have been working tirelessly to innovate and co-create products with global internet giants that fulfil their logistics needs. We now have India’s 1st 4W commercial EV delivery van ready and will be launching it soon. We are excited and are learning everyday from what others are doing to disrupt mobility globally.
EVage stands for – Electric Vehicle Age – the name for us denotes ushering in and contributing to the era of electric vehicles in India.
How has the journey been for EVage so far especially as the company has developed EVs from scratch?
We spent 7 year in R&D with a clear objective to reduce complexities in Manufacturing EVs, in 2014 when EVage was conceptualised the only EVs plying on Indian roads were the e-rickshaws, which were basically completely knock down kits imported from China and assembled in India by the unorganized sector.
I was sure that 4W EVs were the future of mobility, with rising awareness about climate change and health hazards due to pollution by ICE vehicles. However, I soon realized that a technologically sound and cost-effective vehicle for Indians will have to be made from scratch and on an entirely different form factor. To take an example of an analog and a digital watch while they both tell time the design and manufacturing process is very different.
When we began in 2014, the electric mobility supplier ecosystem was missing and we wanted to offer purpose-built vehicles, specially created for the Indian market, we started scouting for engineers who had worked in high precision sectors such as the aerospace industry. While building an EV from scratch was speckled with difficulties, but as a startup it was even more difficult to assemble a rockstar team. A highly skilled team of engineers who have worked in the aerospace industry and have been working tirelessly everyday helping EVage innovate and create vehicles for the future. We have also had stalwarts of the automotive industry to leaders of the aviation sector join us and mentor us towards achieving our collective vision of creating sustainable clean transportation.
Understandably, our journey in the last seven years has been speckled with issues just like any start-up would while trying to develop a product from the scratch. And now we have the vehicle ready.
What are the ways EVage is contributing to India’s future of mobility?
We have looked at creating EVs of the future that can easily be considered as mobile phones with wheels. Automation, electrification and 5G will bring new opportunities, including improved road safety, health benefits, increased accessibility and much needed environmental gains. These developments will intersect with social trends, such as increasing urbanisation and a shift towards a more sharing based economy, further altering the ways in which we travel and in this context transport goods.
We are setting up global standards for commercial EVs, we are the 1st startup in the EV ecosystem to make a vehicle chassis up which is a 1st for India. The government’s vision of ‘Make in India, For the World’ has also been our guiding force and one of our key differentiating factors, the other is the ability to offer 3 advantages in the form of light weighting, modularity and manufacturability.
It is not only about going green in transportation. In logistics, decisions are driven by how much value we create for the users. So, the second USP is our ability to offer light weighting and modularity, which leads to higher number of efficiencies for the fleet operators and safety, comfort and convenience for the drivers. Thirdly, our manufacturability is extremely efficient which ensures that we can focus on better economics in the long run.
The automotive industry has no precedence to make vehicles ultra-lightweight, super durable, reliable and also extremely modular in nature. But other industries do, like aerospace. EVs have a simple motor which does everything and it brings great simplicity to the design. This affords us the leeway for modularity, and innovative manufacturing could be done on top of that. We have imparted global standards of engineering, and technology development right here in Chandigarh, India. So, it is a matter of pride for us as a company.
How is your company solving the logistics problem of congestion, pollution and different mobility needs of different states?
The country today is plagued with vehicles that are polluting cities through tailpipe emissions – 23% pollution in India is caused by the transportation sector. Each and every urban environment is different, you can compare two cities in terms of traffic infrastructure and road networks. Today, we need to look at building vehicles and addressing the mobility needs of different cities/regions which is why purpose-built vehicles are the future of mobility and in this case EVs.
Over the past 5-6 years we have been working with ecommerce and logistics players to understand their current and future mobility needs. Which has given us a better understanding of their needs and helped us co-create vehicles that address their needs. We believe there will be a need for building purpose-built vehicles that efficiently dovetail into the fabric of urban environments. The only way to manufacture purpose-built vehicles and manufacture efficiently is through micro factories.
Traditionally, the automotive industry focuses on investing large amounts of money, space and manpower in order to manufacture in millions to make sense of economies of scale, this would need to change and that is what we are doing through our micro factories – changing the way vehicles/EVs are manufactured. We are manufacturing purpose-built vehicles at low to medium volumes whilst ensuring efficiencies across the board.
Recently, I read a small survey done by Lawrence Burns (Ex- Head of Global R&D) and his colleagues, for Cambridge Earth Institute, suggests that a township like Ann Arbor Michigan would need only 18,000 vehicles to services the entire city, that currently uses close to 400,000 vehicles – this is the power of purpose-built vehicles that contributes positively to reduce congestion, pollution and also address the mobility needs of the city.
We are proud of the fact that we would be the first company in Asia to create microfactories for automobiles.
How do you see EVage growing and expanding in the next couple of years?
It’s in our DNA to constantly innovate and look at solving real mobility challenges not just of the current times but also of the future. We believe in creating products/vehicles that address the needs of our customers and that in itself is growth for us, the more we address our customers’ needs the more we grow – by way of quality, reliability, performance and bringing in efficiencies for our customers. While our 1st vehicle is a 1 ton commercial EV delivery van, we will definitely have many more vehicles and customers in the coming years.