In a short span of time, Pure EV has an impressive portfolio of electric two wheeler products for the Indian market. As of October 2019, these are the products sold.
- ePluto - A low speed Electric Scooter
- ETRANCE - A unique low speed electric moped
- EGNITE - A premium e-Bike with Alloy frame
- ETRON+ - An entry level e-Bike with steel frame
The electric cycles EGNITE & ETRON+ were also good to ride like any other e-Bike. They had a BLDC hub motor on the rear wheel. While trying the Pedal Assist (PAS) feature, I could clearly feel the motor being powered for 4-5 seconds after i stopped pedalling. I feel the PAS Sensor and the controller had to be tuned to stop supplying power to the motor as soon as the user stopped pedalling. While its not a major issue for most users, I'm an eBike purist and for me PAS quality is very important when it comes to e-Bikes. In my opinion, the eBike that provides best PAS experience is the eAdicct eBike. This feedback was provided to the company and hope they fix this in the upcoming releases.
But the most fun Abhishek and I had was on the ETRANCE Moped! We loved the quirky design and the peppy acceleration, it sure will turn heads and become conversation starters on the road!
The ETRANCE goes upto 32 kmph in mode 3, so it never gets boring and really shines in start and stop traffic. It has a cute removable battery that looks like a pencil box, which has an energy density of 1 kWh and goes 70 km per charge. It also has a pedal mode assist sensor like normal eBikes. The PAS feature differentiates it among petrol powered lunas that were sold in the 90s!
If battery runs out of charge, you can pedal home - although it's not fun pedalling without battery powered motor assist!
One exciting thing to note is that the batteries that provide the energy to the electric vehicles that Pure EV sells, are made right here in Hyderabad. We met Dr Nishanth Dongari, who leads the battery engineering team at PureEV. The company procures NMC cells from China and off the shelf BMS which goes into the battery pack. As of now the BMS only has basic features that protect the battery pack from over charging etc. But Dr Nishanth and his team at IIT Hyderabad are working on adding more features to the BMS in the coming months.
Some BMS features and algorithms being worked on are
- Accurate State of Charge estimation through nonlinear Karman Filter algorithms and life cycle prediction algorithms
- Distance to empty algorithms
- Battery health indicators
- Identifying heat spots in batteries and cool those hot spots
We asked them if existing customers can upgrade their BMS say in 6 months to get these features? The answer is no. For example, if an existing customer of ePluto wants an accurate state of charge estimation shown, they will need to buy a new battery with the upgraded BMS.
We hope the company offers an exchange scheme, as it would be really cool for existing customers to get these new features too.
Also the company wanted a small form factor for their batteries so they did not opt for LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery packs used by electric car and many electric scooter manufacturers these days. PureEV claims to have extensive QA/QC processes in place at their battery manufacturing facility and are also a battery supplier for other 2 Wheeler EV companies.
They have have both Li-ion, Li-Phosphate battery packs and are quickly able to adapt to the changes in the battery technology.
We also asked Dr Nishanth on any sort of data logging and remote monitoring being done on the battery packs and he said that they do log data offline and adding connectivity will add to the cost and power consumption and thus at this point of time the batteries are offline. But in the future they might add battery connectivity features.
The team also showed us the battery manufacturing unit (no photos were permitted!) with lots of automation in place. The video interview of Dr Nishant will be coming soon on PluginIndia YouTube channel. We were super impressed by the focus on battery engineering! Way to go PureEV!
This question often comes to mind of people whenever we talk about electric vehicle startups in India. Often the criticism, we hear, is that companies are getting Chinese products and not innovating here in India! The information we got from PureEV is that, yes, the frames and battery cells, some components like controller and an off the shelf BMS are imported from China. But the team has Indian suppliers for their e-Bikes. They are also slowly building a domestic supplier base for e-Scooter components like LEDs, IoT devices, tyres, switches etc.
Here are more insight i got when i spoke to the Pure EV team now how the company works with their Chinese partners
The Pure EV team worked on the designs for the eTrance Moped and ePluto. They then send these designs to Chinese partner who who ships the fabricated body frames.
The team plans to add functionality, algorithms over the dumb controllers and the BMS (as explained above) and send the software to the Chinese partners, who will flash the software and create updated controllers, BMS boards.
Soon they hope to Indainize the entire process.
We have to appreciate atleast PureEV is focussed on Indian engineering instead of just getting everything from China. And the fact that they are being honest about it is also a positive.
The company already has 30+ dealers pan India and are expanding rapidly in the coming months. Mr Rohit Vadera, who is the co-founder and CEO told us that dealers spend a lot of time at the factory getting trained in the battery packs, vehicles to offer good service to customers. The major presence of dealers are in South and West India. They are looking to expanding to more than 100+ dealers soon.
They have a manufacturing facility to produce 1000 vehicles per month and also are hitting close to 5 MWh per month capacity for the Lithium Battery manufacturing. The factory they have now is a phase 1 of their expansion. Once the factory has hit the limit, the company will aim for a series B funding to expand further with a larger facility where vehicles and batteries will be manufactured in larger numbers.
We at PluginIndia are extremely impressed by the team at Pure EV and look forward to their products in the market. The team seems to be focussed on battery engineering and making in India, which will give them an advantage over other similar startups and also help them launch vehicles which offer a true EV experience to users.
We wish the team the best of luck.