We talk about Electric scooter servicing, NMC vs LFP batteries and more. In this blog, Atul shares his thoughts on the discussion.
OEM also has to take its share of responsibility. There are 800 components in a vehicle - and the aim is to disseminate knowledge about failure rates in a transparent way. The biggest problem is battery performance. Internal MIS reports of battery performance have been shown to banks. In future, Nishanth does not have any issues in sharing with banks, Pure’s internal audits related to failure rates.
On the product front the ePluto 7g remains the best seller. On the dealer front, Pure now has 84 operational outlets, including one in Nepal. One in Bangladesh being added soon. NCR is still pending though. Dealer increase and supply chain strengthening have to both happen simultaneously. Pure is not too keen about Multi brand showrooms because the company believes that it is not good for brand building. Product placement is important. There should be no conflict of interest for a dealer.
A large EV battery maker has 1 toll free number for battery service, this eliminates dealer involvement and the battery maker can directly service the batteries. We have seen companies like Exide which have set up a separate eco system for batteries in the ICE market. Thoughts on this model? Pure is not keen to try out this model. Pure is worried about its dealer Return on Investment. To this end, the company has a policy of not doing any b2b sales - all sales are routed through dealers.
Knowledge dissemination is important. Dealer sales and service team is trained at Pure EV factory and in Hyderabad service dealer locations. Interestingly, the dealer sales people are paid by Pure during this training. The physical presence of dealer sales and service trainees at the factory is important. Online was tried out but is not as effective. Judgmental calls of the service technician are important. The mechanic has to be trained well. In 30 to 40% of returns, components are sent back to the Hyderabad factory for connector faults that were not diagnosed properly by service mechanics.
Electric vehicles have less maintenance than ICE, but it is wrong to claim that they are zero maintenance. If high failure rates are noticed in certain components, proactively customers and dealers are informed. In free services at Pure, dealers check electrical connections. There is a visual check. In addition, tools and equipment for gauging the health of battery and electrical systems are being provided. 80-90 percent of problems are in electricals. For mechanical systems, industry practices are well laid out - knowledge is higher at mechanic level. My own take is that at best 20% of dealer revenue will come from vehicle maintenance.
In future, a large part of dealer revenue is going to come from battery replacements. Another revenue stream is going to be battery swapping. To start with a dealer network in the same city can collaborate and offer battery swapping solutions to customers in the city. So training the dealer team in battery management is of the utmost importance. Today there is a separate PDI (Pre Delivery Inspection) template for batteries which dealers go through. The company is working on a dealer located device: Battery Equalizers, which will connect to the vehicle’s BMS port and take care of cell balancing. It would be a slow charging - and the device would take 12-24 hours to finish its work. It is expected to correct multiple issues at cell level. The device is in an advanced stage of testing - and Nishanth expects it to be in place in 15-20 days time.
We wanted to know why Pure has chosen NMC chemistry over LFP? Pure is also into energy storage solutions. All those solutions use LFP. So Pure does have a background in LFP too. According to Nishanth, LFP is good for a certain type of discharge rate. In energy storage applications, discharge rates are steady. From a thermal runaway perspective LFP is best. But the big challenge in India is that charging infra is not available. For the next 3-5 years portability is going to be a fundamental requirement. The average daily plying of a two wheeler in India is 30 km. For 7g, 2.5 kWh is the max storage that Pure can achieve for a portable battery only with NMC technology. NMCs are rated at 3c and 5c charge rates. NMC Weight and volume efficiency is also 50 to 60% more than LFP.
What percentage of PureEV customers take their batteries out of the vehicle to charge? In independent houses, batteries are charged in situ. For 80% of their customers, who stay in flats or rented houses, people remove the batteries and take them in for charging. Some of the clients also charge at their offices, as they have been allowed EV charging by their organizations. 80% charging happens fast - then it slows down. So short duration charging can get people back on the road fast with adequate energy reserves.
NMC Safety is also taken care of by BMS. BMS upgrades are happening every 2-3 months. 20% range improvement and life cycle improvements have happened in the last BMS upgrade. In a recent BMS update not only was the software changed, but for a specific set of vehicles even the hardware was changed. The new board has a few more ICs in it. Thermal management has improved. The aim is to ensure a trouble free battery life. 3 years is being warrantied, but Nishanth expects that workable life will go up to 5 years.
Why not offer the choice of LFP or NMC to the customer? Nishanth feels that at the start of the EV Li battery product cycle, you cannot confuse the customer. So Pure only gives her only one chemistry choice - NMC. Nishanth also feels that failure rates of LFP batteries are higher compared to NMC. LFP is also a misfit for power train design. Having said that, Pure has started work on LFP for two wheelers. BMS will be quite different for LFP.
We had a discussion on console display of Distance To Empty (DTE) Vs State of Charge (SoC). The BMS algorithm is still voltage based for SoC - earlier it was linear, now it's logarithmic. Pure has filed two patents for a DTE algorithm. It will take at least 6 months for this algorithm to reach the new version of BMS. There are quite a few complexities in both SOC and DTE estimation. Algorithm has also to be linked to cell level chemistry. Based on SoC, internal resistance of the battery varies. Temperature is also a variable. Heat is not good for any Li battery. Safety, performance, life get affected by heat.
PURE EV scooters don't have a Telematics unit and SIM card. But is there some kind of data logging mechanism? Pure has tested a lot of iOT devices. 50 to 100 devices of 6-7 companies have been installed for test purposes in Pure vehicles. Pure team cannot change the driving habits of drivers, who continue to treat EVs like petrol. Life of IoT devices is an issue. Rough driving impacts them. . The key decision is capital allocation. The device costs around 3-5 K. In addition there is a subscription cost.
So what would the company do if it had an added 5 K to spend? Customer feedback is being submitted regularly by dealers. For the customer the mantra is always: Yeh Dil Maange Mor. In customer feedback, one of the topmost must-haves is boot space. Next is a more comfy seat. Then is range, followed by improved pickup. Telematics features very low on the list of priorities. Data capture is already being done when the customer visits the dealer. It’s done through wired connections currently, but will be transiting to wireless in future.