SUN Mobility drives adoption of battery-swapping network
SUN Mobility, an electric mobility infrastructure and solutions company in Bengaluru, has raised $50 million from Vitol, a strategic investor and leading energy trader.
"We will be deploying the funds into capacity expansion to meet the high customer demand," said Chetan Maini, Co-founder and Chairman of SUN Mobility, in a press statement on Wednesday. "Our existing technology partnership with Bosch, and our new strategic relationships with Vitol will allow us to focus on being a world-class energy solutions provider for electric vehicles (EV)," he added.
Since 2017, SUN Mobility has built 65 SWAP points in 15 cities for two- and three-wheeler fleet operators to change batteries.
The company plans to expand its footprint by increasing the number of SWAP points, partnering with manufacturers, collaborating with fleet operators and distributors to introduce newer business models, and adding more vehicles to its mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) offering.
The company aims to set up 500 SWAP Points in India by end-2022. Its SWAP points network has so far enabled more than 400,000 rides and 6 million kilometres (km) in the country, according to SUN Mobility.
In September, SUN Mobility partnered with Zypp Electric for the integrated MaaS offering to deploy 10,000 vehicles. Zypp Electric is a leading last-mile delivery EV startup, founded in 2017 with a mission to make India carbon-free by using electric scooters.
Zypp currently delivers groceries, medicines, food, and packages from one point to another. They use SUN Mobility's swappable battery for their two-wheelers. Its fleet currently comprises 1,500 Zypp Pilots (delivery executives) and 100 vehicles under the MaaS offering.
With the integrated MaaS offering, SUN Mobility provides clients with a bundled solution, including electric vehicles, and batteries with a swap plan for the duration of the contract. It charges a licence fee upfront, after which the clients pay per battery swap.
Fleet operators subscribe to the MaaS service on a lease basis, instead of buying vehicles from manufacturers. The operator gets access to EVs, SUN Mobility’s battery, and its battery-swap subscription.
“As a startup, we like to stay asset light,” Akash Gupta, Co-founder, Zypp Electric, told EnterpriseStory. "The capital that can be used for investing in a vehicle or an asset can now be diverted to build technology and spend on people," he added.
Partnering with SUN Mobility allows the startup to use the available infrastructure rather than having to invest. Zypp currently uses this service in Gurgaon, Noida and Delhi. The launch has been only in the commercial vehicles space, and SUN Mobility is still working on a B2C model.
Sun Mobility has designed and sourced the smart batteries that are interoperable for electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers. Each vehicle can carry more than one battery. For example, an electric auto-rickshaw can take up to three batteries. The pricing of each battery ranges between Rs 50 to Rs 60 per battery swap.
Fleet operators can also buy an EV from the auto manufacturer SUN Mobility has partnered with, including Ashok Leyland, Piaggio, and Kinetic Green. The vehicles have the battery kit embedded, but the battery has to be added later.
Customers can avail of SUN Mobility’s battery-swapping subscription in the showroom, at the time of purchase. Once the subscription is taken, they have access to a network of SWAP points in major cities that offer quick interchange stations with two-minute swaps, high-throughput, and optimal thermal conditioning for batteries.
At the time of swapping, all batteries are changed for new ones. SUN Mobility says a two-wheeler’s single battery can travel up to 50 km, after which the user can swap the battery.
“The critical part is the battery swapping. It reduces the downtime. In a business like ours, we can make money during downtime,” Akash noted. Zypp has a monthly subscription for using the battery swapping points. Its usage per vehicle comes up to over 100 km and does battery swap once a day.
The driver and fleet operators can constantly keep track of the health of the battery using SUN Mobility’s Smart Network and app. Its smart network is a cloud-based IoT (Internet of Things) platform that generates, processes vehicle and battery-related data in real time, and enables decision-making for fleet and network management.
The app has a dashboard where the status of the battery can be checked, and the batteries have a sensor that allows real-time tracking. SUN Mobility, which employs more than 300 persons, has developed these Smart Network in-house.
With this MaaS offering, SUN Mobility aims to onboard over a million vehicles by 2025 to its battery swapping platform. It has deployed the MaaS service for ecommerce and goods delivery in major cities, such as Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, and Chandigarh.