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India EV Pioneer Chetan Maini Announces New Venture with Sun New Energy Systems

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【Summary】Sun Mobility’s grand vision is to establish a new charging ecosystem for EVs. Instead of waiting hours at charging stations or parking lots, EV owners will be able to trade their depleted batteries in for fully charged power cells.

Michael Cheng    Apr 20, 2017 4:58 AM PT
India EV Pioneer Chetan Maini Announces New Venture with Sun New Energy Systems

Tech-savvy residents based in India who are looking for powerful electric vehicle (EV) solutions are in for a treat. Chetan Maini, a prolific entrepreneur responsible for launching the country's first electric car, the iconic REVA, announced his return to the EV sector. The Bangalore-based businessman launched the REVA in 2001, roughly seven years before the Tesla Roadster officially entered commercial markets in 2008.

This time, Maini isn't alone in his re-emergence. Earlier this week, the REVA founder revealed a new partnership with Sun New Energy Systems, a subsidiary of Sun Group that focuses on green investment strategies. Together, Maini's Virya Mobility and Sun Energy Systems have formed a 50:50 joint venture under Sun Mobility. Both companies are uniting to create and develop smart batteries for a wide range of land-based vessels, from private cars to buses and scooters.

Expanding Smart Car Infrastructure

India's EV industry has attracted numerous locals, with the promise of seamless transportation and zero emissions. From Mahindra's eVerito to Volvo's XC90 T8 plug-In hybrid, people have several options on the market today. However, like the US electric vehicle space, India is also lacking supporting infrastructure in the form of charging stations and smart power cells. Furthermore, due to hesitation coming from both sides (buyers and automakers), price points still remain high and out of reach for most consumers.

"Though many OEM's have such plans, the market as such does not exist in India. People have range anxiety when it comes to electric vehicles. The lack of proper docking stations and higher prices drive the consumer away," says Kumar Kandaswami, Senior Director, Deloitte India.

To ease the transition of EV adoption, the newly formed group plans to make EV batteries more powerful and cost effective. By increasing the vehicle's range, Sun Mobility hopes it will attract locals who are ready to give up their fuel-dependent vessels. To streamline its goals, the company will collaborate with automakers to ensure widespread availability and usage.

Creating a Charging Ecosystem

Sun Mobility's grand vision is to establish a new charging ecosystem for EV owners in the country. Even with superior batteries, the cars still have to charge for long periods of time when they run out of power. This is another drawback that the venture is aiming to address. Maini, who owns a whopping 35 patents related to energy management, clarified that the new batteries will be modular, IoT sensor-capable and interchangeable. This means that the units are not only upgradable, but also swappable at docking stations.

Instead of waiting hours at charging stations or parking lots, EV owners will be able to trade their depleted batteries in for fully charged power cells. This solution is much faster than refueling at a gas station. To ensure compatibility with all EVs on the road, the business will launch standard battery models for EV automakers. Sun Mobility plans to reveal its first smart battery prototype in Q4 of 2018.

"This smart network of batteries and IT- enabled ecosystem will allow customers to save fuel costs, refuel time and contribute to greener environment," explained Kandaswami.

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