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The transition to electric mobility is a promising strategy for decarbonising the transport sector. Therefore the companies and stakeholders involved in the EV industry are trying their best to make the transition more sustainable, unchallenging, and cost-effective.

The journey towards EVs has already begun in the country, and with several charging points in public places (parking lots, petrol pumps, shopping malls) installed, but the task remains highly challenging as it would equally require the active participation of the power sector.

Knowing the significance of the synergy between auto and power sectors, a BITS Pilani alumnus has come out with a unique solution for charging electric vehicles. Arjun Singh, founder of Hopcharge, has claimed to provide an on-demand door-to-door charging service to EV owners.

With international experience in the energy industry with some of the renowned companies like Schlumberger, Singh said, virtually Hopcharge is an "energy cloud" and in physical terms, it is a “power bank" with a high-power charger. “This combination inside a van is to give mobility. Whenever you need it, it is there. Instead of going to the public charging station, stations come to you, by doing that Hopcharge complements the fixed infrastructure and gives more options to charge EVs hence convenience," he said.

Further, speaking about the issue between the Resident welfare association (RWAs) and EV charging, Singh explained that “Currently, RWAs cannot give EV owners unlimited connection because when RWA is created, a building is built, a transformer is also fixed. If a society of 700 people is there...and let's say the load per house would be 7kw/house accordingly the load gets installed in the transformer. If anything new comes up ( EVs in this case), then the RWAs will have to change/upgrade the transformers, and subsequently substations etc need to upgrade as well".

He said all these changes were possible but the execution process might take time. Hopcharge is yet to be launched and would initially focus on the 4-wheeler market only, including all the premium cars- Tesla, MG ZS EV, Tata Nexon, among others, Singh said.

How many EVs a Hopcharge van can charge in a day?

Explaining hypothetically, Singh said a Hopcharge would be able to charge 12 plus Tata Nexon electric vehicles per day covering 20 km of distance. Singh also informed that his company is currently focusing on providing the charging service inside the cities only and in the near future Hopcharge vans might be seen on the highways.

How long does a Hopcharge van take to charge a single 4-wheeler electric vehicle?

Singh said the charging depends on numerous factors, such as destination, type of car, pre-existing battery level, battery quality, among others. “Usually we recommend charging 80% of the battery that can be charged in 45 minutes. Our job was to cater to most of the models available in the Indian market right now. We make sure the restriction of charging time should not come from our chargers," Singh said.

Hopcharge-service booking

At the moment, the company is working on an experimental basis in Delhi-NCR. Owners of electric cars can book charging through an android/iOS app with a compatible charger. "It is Invite Only right now to optimise the user experience as we scale. If someone asks for us we will be available in the stipulated time," Singh said.

Hopcharge-Road ahead

Singh said that currently, the company has a major focus on building Hopcharge as a concept and convenience to end-users in the country. Later it might expand to other geographies like the USA, emerging markets like Taiwan and Japan, and probably some cities in Europe.

At the moment, Hopcharge has an entity in Japan. Singh said, “It's a very strategic reason to be there because one of the oldest and fastest-charging technologies is from Japan". Hopcharge is a member of CHAdeMO, Singh informed.

Mint talked to the Society Of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV) Director-General Sohinder Singh Gill about the Hopcharge mobility concept, he said the company would be able to provide only emergency service just like an ambulance. Hopcharge can be implemented, but for experimental purposes only, he added.

According to Gill, to expedite the electric cars sale in India, the government must focus on three major things-- customers attitude, EVs price, and charging infrastructure. However, he stressed that automakers must continue to manufacture EVs without concerns about charging issues. He said, “Not to wait for charging infrastructure, just manufacture".

“It is okay if an electric car costs around 20-25 lakh. At least people will start talking about it. If the density of premium EVs goes up in metro cities, automatically charging infrastructure will improve. Ultimately, mass movement of the low-budget electric cars (around 10 lakh range) would begin," Gill said.

He further gave examples of foreign cities which have adopted strict electric vehicle policies, such as London, France, and others. For instance, in London, only electric cars are allowed to enter the city. France is giving huge incentives to companies that are pushing their employees to buy electric cars. The UK has created zones where only non-fuel cars are allowed to enter. Gill said if state governments replicate similar zonal policies in populated Indian cities, it would bring a small but positive change.

EVs sale in India

Over the past few years, the Indian EV industry has witnessed decent growth. As per the SMEV data for the previous financial year (FY21), the electric car industry saw a registration of 4,588 units compared to 3,000 units in FY20.

According to the SMEV, a strong bank finance mechanism is still missing in the country. Only a few banks are offering loans on selected models. For instance, NBFC Shriram City Union Finance Ltd said it has 20% of the market share of 2-wheeler finance currently.

"The disruption in two-wheelers is about to take off. Currently, the sales of EVs are less than 1% of 2W, we have 20% of the market share of 2W financed currently," YS Chakravarti, MD and CEO, Shriram City Union Finance Ltd said.

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