This IIT-Hyderabad incubated startup is all set to ride the EV high on its newly launched electric scooter
In recent years, the Government of India has taken steps to accelerate the mass adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the country. Reduction in import duty on certain parts for manufacturing EVs, and reduction in GST for both the vehicles and the chargers are some of the strategic steps taken in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and tackle environmental pollution.
Seeing the thrust and the increasing need for more sustainable transport options, Pure EV, an electric vehicle vertical of IIT-Hyderabad startup PuREnergy, jumped into this space in 2016. The startup manufactures EVs and lithium batteries.
In April 2019, it announced the launch of four two-wheeler electric models - Egnite, Etrance, Epluto, and Etron.
Rohit Vadera, CEO of PuREnergy, says,
“Pure EV was founded keeping in mind the aspirational needs of Indian customers to deliver to them a reliable, cost-effective scooter that also speeds up the transition from petrol to EVs in the two-wheeler mobility segment.”
The startup has set up a 40,000 sqft factory in Hyderabad for large-scale manufacturing of EVs. Rohit says that it has access to all the research and development facilities from IIT Hyderabad and strong technological support.
Founded by Nishanth Dongari and led by Rohit Vadera, 32, both alumni of IIT Bombay, the USP of Pure EV is its in-house battery manufacturing capacity with cutting-edge technology developed by IIT-Hyderabad.
Rohit says, “This gives us the upper hand in providing the consumer with reliable battery technology and easy and swift service support. Also, the batteries are detachable and available locally at the dealer outlets.”
He adds that the startup has facilities for the assembly and testing of the lithium battery packs, and plans are on to increase its capacity to two gigawatt hours per annum from current five megawatt hours per month.
“Thermal management of high-voltage direct current (HVDC) batteries, active balancing battery management system, and predicting the lifecycle of batteries through accurate algorithms are the key focus areas,” he says.
The CEO adds that Pure EV batteries are designed to work under tough environmental conditions, its portable batteries enable easy charging and swapping, and the mechanical design suits the Indian terrain conditions.
PURE EV currently has 100+ employees in its team. Nishanth is an Associate Professor of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at IIT Hyderabad. Rohit has worked in the oil and gas sector with leading global engineering firms in Abu Dhabi. He also worked with Ostro Energy, a platform setup by Actis Capital for development of wind and solar plants, and has been with PuREnergy since 2018.
PURE EV is incubated in I-TIC (Technology Incubation Center - IIT Hyderabad). Its battery research lab is based in IIT Hyderabad.
In early February, the startup announced the launch of its fifth model, a high-speed electric scooter, ‘EPluto 7G’, at an ex-showroom price of Rs 79,999. “The vehicle offers affordability, long range, top speed of 60kmph and battery warranty for 40,000km. A unique point of this vehicle is that the battery and the vehicle have been designed and developed factoring in Indian terrain and weather conditions,” Rohit points out.
He adds that the scooter has an ICAT-certified range of 116 km per full charge, which is the highest in the country in this particular class of product, and comes with patented battery technology.
“EPluto 7G is the embodiment of years of hard effort of our research and development team and we hope it will delight all categories of prospective EV buyers,” he says.
The startup has a current manufacturing capacity of 2,000 units per month and aims to deploy over 10,000 EVs on road during the current calendar year.
PURE EV has also been developing a prototype of HVDC electric truck and bus lithium battery modules and intends to showcase them this year for potential collaborations.
The present and future outlook
Last year, Pure EV had raised funding from VC Nannapaneni, Chairman and Managing Director, NATCO Pharma Ltd, putting the startup at a valuation of $35 million.
With a customer base of 1,000+, the startup claims to have presence in 50 dealer outlets across 14 states including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Uttar Pradesh. The company targeted to setup 200 outlets by the end of 2020. It has sold more than 1,000 vehicles so far.
“With the launch of this EPluto 7G model, we find ourselves at a very opportune moment where the consumer awareness about EV is rapidly growing and still there are very few quality players in the market. So, we aim to grow very aggressively in the coming few years to establish Pure EV as a pan-India-recognised brand. The key is to provide the consumer with reliable technology at a viable price point," Rohit says.
Ather Energy, which retails a single model in Bengaluru and Chennai, is backed by Flipkart Co-founder Sachin Bansal, two-wheeler manufacturer Hero MotoCorp, Singapore-based InnoVen Capital, and American hedge fund and venture capital investor Tiger Global. In November, the startup also announced its plans to introduce a new electric scooter in the next 12 to 18 months and the launch of an electric motorcycle in the next three to four years.
While announcing the Budget 2020-2021 on February 1, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government has increased customs duty on imported completely built units (CBUs) of commercial EVs to 40 percent with effect from April 1, 2020, from the current 25 percent, as the government pushes to promote local production and intends to expand this ecosystem. Industry players believe this will provide enough incentive for more startups like Pure EV to crop up in the country.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)