Raphae speaks to Mr Santosh Ram, who is founder of BrightBlu, a Navi Mumbai based company, who has been working on Made In India AC type 2 based charging stations.
BrightBlu and their team have also developed software in-house which works with their EV charging hardware
Santosh we know that you and your team were a part of DriveAmp who engineered made-in-India EVSEs while other companies imported their equipment from outside. You guys have been doing it all yourself. So, tell us a little bit about yourself, tell us a little bit about Bright Blu and how did you switch from the earlier company which was DriveAmp.
Yeah, so thanks so much, I had actually started DriveAmp back in 2016 with 2 of my other co-founders and we had actually built the technology stack for an EV Charging stations over several iterations back then we were working in Intel makers lab. We had actually worked on multiple projects in EV Charging in India past 3 years. In 2019 we had actually moved our business operations with a Netherlands based company called Asia Electric forming a new brand BrightBlu. This actually resulted in us bringing together a team with niche expertise in all organisational departments as well as experience in global EV markets. Our CEO Mr. Webren has 7 years of experience in the European as well as Indian EV market and has helped set up several collaborations between Netherland based companies. We also have Mr. Yash Chitalia who also joined our core team, having worked for 5 years in EV Box North America.One of the 1st employees there for 5 years there and has helped the eco-system in the North American market. So, EV box as you know is already one of the global EV Charging infrastructure companies. Yeah, we are very excited to have Yash on board and bringing a wealth of experience to the core team. So, coming to mission in BrightBlu. The aim to provide global and leading charging solutions to our customers. Make charging easy, accessible, and affordable. We also control the entire charging technology stack both hardware which includes the AC Charging stations as well as the software which includes the Admin dashboard and the mobile application and we have an in-house engineering team taking care of the development of both of these aspects.
That's awesome Santosh. Let's take a deep dive right into the product itself. The EVSE. tell us about the top 5 features of the BrightBlu EVSE?
We have actually developed a 7 KW AC wall Box which we have called Jolt. This is actually a Type 2 charger compliant with the IEC62196 standard so most of the EV vehicles launched in the market today such as the Tata Nexon, MG ZS EV as well as the Hyundai Kona all follow the Type2 charging standard for AC charging. So we actually have an inbuilt cable already provided with the charger. We have actually shifted from a screen-based architecture back when we were working in DriveAmp to keep the simplicity in all models. So the charger also OCPP1.6J compliant and it comes with a certified KWH meter for billing as well as transactional data information. The charger has programmable LED lights which is used as a visual indicator and we have actually programmed the LEDs to give out a lot more status information compared to the chargers in the market so, for example, if the chargers goes in an error mode. based on the frequency of flashing of the LED, the type of error can actually be whether its a grounding error, whether its overvoltage error. Things like that. There is also a status indicator shows whether the charger has lost internet connectivity and in those cases, the data is actually stored offline till the internet actually comes back. The charger comes with an option for SIM card as well as Wifi based on the user's requirements so we can provide the charger with a SIMCard or if the user already has a Wi-Fi at his location, the charger can be configured at the time of commissioning. So the device also has a lot of error detections that are compliant with European standards. So things like overvoltage, undervoltage, surge protection, Earthwire detection, the temperature which is specially the problem in case the cables are not fastened properly and there is little bit of vibrations coming, we detect those as well we have ensured and safety check in place.
Since your Charger uses a Type 2 connector Santosh we assume that it charges cars like eVerito, the Kona and Tata Nexon Ev can it also be used to charge cars having the earlier IEC type connectors like for instance the Mahindra e2o Classic or the Tigor EV?
So these chargers do come with the Type 2 port and they are dominantly for use of the Type 2 vehicles which is, so all the newer vehicles that are launched right now are the Type2 vehicles. For the older Variants, the IEC port you would need a Type 2 to IEC adaptor in order to charge using the Jolt. So thats the thing.
Tell us more about the software features of this EVSE? what does it support and does it have for instance scheduled charging?
Yeh so coming to the software, which is as I mentioned for the charger is compliant with OCPP 1.6J which is the global standard for the communication of EVSe with the backend.So usually for those customers who wish to set up a charger or group of chargers in semi-public or public locations in order to earn revenue from them so we have a full dashboard featured list which they can access. So the owner will get an access to the owner-dashboard where he can view his chargers under his management. He will also get a full analytics report of all the chargers that he has under his management. He can also have a page where he can setup user-access, for example, if I own a small company and I want to give access to all the employees to charging infrastructure that I have set up. I can easily issue them RFID cards and I can enable and disable RFIDS through my admin dashboard itself. So owners can also assign admins with certain rights for chargers. So suppose I have a group of chargers in Mumbai and a group of chargers in Chennai, So I can assign different rates per KWH that I wish to charge users for accessing the charging services. So, those who also setup private chargers will be able to access the data through the mobile applications. so the mobile application has a map and a list where the EV drivers can easily spot what chargers are there in the vicinity and they can actually go to charge. It also shows the charger status that is available or whether its in use or whether under maintenance. So, schedule charging and smart charging profile is something we are working on currently. They will be launched in the second iteration of the software platforms.
You were telling us about the methods of authentication and the billing and how it will be preserved. Can you tell us what different methods of authentication EVSE supports?
So for authentication, we do generally prefer 2 modes by default the chargers do have an RFID reader. EV drivers are issued RFID on request so you can easily carry it along with your keychain and so once they approach the charger, all they have to do is swipe RFID card and the charging session immediately is registered to this user. Through your mobile application all this session data will be. You can view all the session data through the mobile application. Second thing is the charger also a QRCode which has the charger identification number. So ev drivers can actually come up with their mobile applications, scan their QR code and we will immediately come to know, ok you are a registered user trying to access this charger and it automatically authenticate you in the back end. So we do have these two modes of authentication.
Different options are available to people who install these chargers, What are the variants of this charger that are available or is this the only one?
For those people who are also looking for a variant, BrightBlu does offer a portable charger that goes up to 7 KW. This charger is actually a mobile charger which you can carry along in the dicky of your car and this is not a smart charger, basically its for emergency use in case people are going for long rides or if you need to charge at your farmhouse or maybe at a Dhaba on the highway. So this does come with an IEC inlet and has a Type 2 port on output that you connect to your vehicle. So this is actually a little bit of a stop-gap solution for people who want to go on long drives and are looking for an easy and just a convenient way to charge.
Can you tell us now about the hardware side of it? where are the chargers manufactured?
The chargers are entirely designed and assembled in India. So be, the controllers are fully manufactured and designed in-house and most of the assembly of the actual charging stations, we have a partner in Silvassa who handles those tasks. The controllers for the charging stations including the embedded ports are fully done in-house. The only thing we are reliant on foreign components are the charging cables. So apart from that all the other components are sourced locally and are designed and manufactured inhouse.
Alright! Moving on to the commercial side of the things, Santosh. We want to understand from you, BrightBlu right now caters to the Electric car segment, fleets, and businesses. Are you looking up dealerships to promote these EVSE?
Yeh, so right now customers who wish to approach us and buy our charging stations can directly approach us through our website at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are in the future looking to establish dealerships and partners especially for resellers and installers who wish to resell and do the installation services for BrightBlu. So we are already tying up with a few installation partners and we already are onboarding them through a training program, where we explain to the installers the entire process of setting up and installing and commissioning an EV charging station. Once they are approved and once they go through the training they become certified installers for BrightBlu chargers. So we are trying to establish a network of resellers as well as installers so that it can also be a revenue opportunity for the local community of electricians and local distributors of electrical products and in turn it also helps our, to grow our business across the entire geography of India.
Awesome! Santosh Thank you so much. We will be moving on to the community questions.
- Sateesh Reddy from Pune
Why are AC EVSE’s so expensive? We see that many of these start at Rs 40,000 and go upto Rs 1 Lakh. Are components expensive?
So thanks for the questions. Yeh, so, it's a good question, So as you see, if you compare the prices of EV charging stations globally, for a smart EV AC charging station, it can go anywhere between 60,000/- to a Lakh. Actually, at BrightBlu since we are designing and manufacturing as well as assembling the chargers fully in-house and these are Made-in-India, so we actually price competitive when it comes to imported chargers. As well as we also see a lot of chargers coming from China at least before the Covid-19 thing happened. So, from the feedback, what we have observed, lot of these chargers coming from China, though they are cheap, don't seem to be too reliable as well as people are not getting customer support from these companies. So, by making the chargers inhouse, we are actually keeping it at a very competitive price and also if you see, the recent make models of electric vehicles coming in with bigger battery packs and longer range so proper charging standards and safety is required to ensure reliable charging. so, a lot of people feel that charging needs to be cheap but having a proper good grade, and a good quality charger is a must.
- Nupur from Indore
There are many kinds of connectors in EVSEs and Electric Vehicles - IEC60309, Type 2, 3 Pin. If i get your BrightBlu charger, I will need to use adaptors to charge my scooter, car etc. Do you supply these adaptors too?
We do supply Type 2 to Type2 cables but apart from that as far as it comes to adaptors for Type2 to IEC, currently we dont provide the adaptors but we would be happy to help any customers who have such requirements but what we actually see is for the 2 and 3 wheeler market Type2 is actually not taken off as the charging standard, so for the 2-3 wheeler market, we do feel that IEC protocol which is the IEC standard and the Bharat standard charger that something that works well there but obviously it doesn't have communication between the EVSE and the vehicle. So, we actually do take up certain projects for IEC based chargers based if the user has certain volumes he can give us. Then we do take those projects on case to case basis.
- Mr. Rahul Shah from Baroda
Where can I see a demo of your charger, maybe via PluginIndia?
Yes, so, certainly., Before the lockdown we were actually hoping you know, to get our products and to get a few demos done, but unfortunately, due to the lockdown, like a lot of companies, we had to hold our productions, operations till things quieten down and the curve starts to flatten so hopefully we do expect to give a lot of demos especially work with PluginIndia also to get a demo done and hopefully we are very excited to put our chargers out there in the market especially for users to actually get an experience of charging with BrightBlu technology. Something that we are all at BrightBlu is eagerly waiting for and hopefully, it will be very soon.
this really was a deep dive into EVSE