Raphae speaks to Mr Anurag Patil, who is director of Masstech Controls, a Mumbai based company, who has been deploying AC and DC charging stations for Electric Vehicles all over India. In this interview, we speak to Anurag about why AC and DC charging equipment is needed. We talk about the work Masstech has been doing with OEMs, tender processes and also answers some questions from EV community.
We know that Masstech makes both AC and DC chargers mainly in your Jalgaon facility. Why are these necessary to be made? Why do you need these AC and DC Chargers?
So just to give an example, even if you connect your TV to a socket, you have SMPS with all the production. So, our grid as of now is not 100% good. Its a bit unstable, so there is huge chance of having a power surge or a short-circuit from other appliances not particularly from an EV charging socket but there will be some other appliances working and if those appliances fail, there is a surge. you need to protect your vehicle and that's the reason why we have the chargers made. AC Chargers particularly. DC chargers have their own purpose because you have to convert the AC power from the grid to DC power to charge your batteries. For AC chargers, it's taken care of by the onboard charger on the vehicle.
Tell us a little bit about the safety features and communication features that these chargers have?
So, particularly AC Chargers build into 2 parts one which is taking care of the safety regulations which comes under the IEC62196 and 61851 which is for AC charging. AC charger also has a facility via OCPP1.6 protocol to talk to any remote server. Can see the real-time consumption, what's the status of the charger, What's the status of the car, all of that can be seen remotely. So these are the 2 basic controls of an AC Charger. One is for electrical safety and one is for remote monitoring part.
Awesome! Anurag, we have seen many chargers, in the market by companies like Delta and Exicom. Companies seem to be importing these chargers from China or some other country. As far as Masstech is concerned Masstech is locally manufacturing these in Jalgaon in India. Why is it important to manufacture in India?
So, we started this activity, we also in the first years of me starting the company we also imported products from China. We didn't have the technology, we then executed a few projects, and got performance reviews from them. We came to know that in an Indian situation you need to adapt to the Indian environmental conditions where the Chinese products are not just up to the mark., So, with that need and customisation is also one more need which is there from the customer point of view. So, I have had hundred of customers, having their own, they want configuration of the charger to their specifications. So if you want to adopt quickly you need to have in-house technology. If you don't have the in-house technology you cannot cater to the ongoing demands in the market. So, that was the point where the localization came into play.
What about servicing the chargers in case there is a fault. If they are indigenously made, is it easy to service it?
Its very simple, so for me to maintain spare parts, for me to send my engineer is very simple, because the engineer also understands. Our engineers are trained right from the production so they know what is happening in the technology. So, I would say, how do I say, they know the application knowledge of the charger so it is very essential for them. So, servicing time around is very low. If I was importing chargers I would have to contact China, get feedback from them, then do the changes takes a lot of time. whereas we do the complete, we attend the service within 24 hours, in metropolitan cities, and get it resolved within 48 hours.
Since last we spoke Anurag, the EVSE Division of MassTech has made significant progress. We'd like a little bit of an update, what has Masstech been doing in the past few months in the last year. Can you outline a little bit what you have been working with the Auto OEMs, the automobile manufacturers, the state government and other private sector players.
Yes, so coming to that point, business has been good. We are getting orders from all the sectors such as utility sectors, electricity boards, then we have orders from certain OEMs. I will give you one example, Mumbai-Pune. So you know Purple has purchased some electric busses, we are giving them the EV infrastructure. One of the 150 KW charger has been installed in Mumbai Borivilli and one of them has been installed in Thane CRT campus. Both of them 150 KW capacity. We are also doing another project from Bangalore- Tirupati where EV busses would be operating. Where we are giving 240 KW Chargers to Superfast chargers charge the busses. Masstech currently has now developed chargers till 360 KW but given on-field till 240 KW. Auto OEMs, TATA as you know has launched Nexon which is a beautiful car. We are woking closely with them to setup EV infrastructure at their Dealership network. So we have been supplying our chargers PANIndia in Lucknow, Kochi, Supplying our chargers in Chennai some of them in Trimula. Its PAN India installations, since Nexon, has been launched in 15 major cities. All these 15 major cities will have dealerships at those dealerships we are setting up the charging infra. With BMS, we are planning to install a couple of charging stations in Mumbai which will be publicly operated but it is still under discussion because it's not yet finalized. We are planning to install a few chargers in Mumbai. We have successfully done with Kolkatta Municipal corporation. With the help of CESC the local electricity board. They helped us to install the chargers along with Municipal corporation. They have installed 4 chargers at 4 different locations.
It's very good to hear and this is infrastructure being set up so this is very necessary and we have observed many EVSE companies like EXICOM, they participate in State Government and Municipality tenders and deploy a lot of chargers. What are the rules to participate in tenders? What has your experience been in these Govt. tenders so far?
Frankly speaking, its a price-competitive market. for government tenders, you need a certain qualification to qualify. In recent tenders what I have seen is, you need a minimum 2 years of experience in the charger industry. Then you need to have supplied at least 10-15 chargers that are operational, you need performance certificate from various customers to participate in these tenders. MSMEhas have definitely been given some opportunities which you dont have to pay the AMDs which is a huge amount. Say for a project worth 10 crores you have AMD of 20-25 lakhs, huge amount!. so, that has been exempted from the MSME. which is a good thing! How easily to participate in this tender? If you have a product and if you have successfully commissioned those chargers in India it becomes very easy. For new comers it is very tough, to participate in Govt. Tenders. Its pretty tough.
Is it mandatory for these tenders to have those standards AC - 001 and DC-001 compliant chargers?
Actually, they are pushing it because there are cars available on the road that have to be charged. Say TATA Tigor, the e-Verito, and the new KUV whcih is coming they are all going to be on low voltage. So, till the time they (OEMS) are manufacturing low-voltage cars the demand for AC-001 will still be there. Because Ac-001 can be used for e-rickshaw, 2 wheelers and 4 wheelers. All of them, so it covers all these criteria that will not be an obsolete product pretty soon. There is a huge quantity requirement for that also in the market, but it is all tender driven mostly. Mostly these are all tender-driven.
Also, Masstech has been significantly changing its operating model. We heard that you also had a tie-up with a big company Panasonic. What is that about?
So its is basically a strategic partnership between us and Panasonic. Panasonic mainly being an MNC they are taking care of complete sales for us. Their capability of participating in tenders is much more than us and their reach in the market is much more, it's a big company,. We are very happy to work with them. They have a very good work culture. Basically, our goals and their goals were matching. What we wanted to achieve in this industry was exactly that they wanted.That's how the synergy happened. Next 1 year we need to go international, with an Indian made product and that is our main goal.
Also, Anurag, we know that you have good R&D facilities? Can you tell us a little bit about what you are doing and your investment in research and development?
Our R&D has been handled by 2 very well-known engineers Ex-KPIT, Ex-Delta all these people and these people have a total experience of around 30 years in power electronics. For us, it is very essential to build this team because initially for the business definitely we were trading. but after 2016, the company made a decision that we had to invest in R&D and it was the best decision so far because due to that we are able to cater to every customer, every customization requirement he has. The value that I put in R&D I have got much more than that. So I am pretty happy to invest in R&D in India as of now. So, one is working on the hardware part of it. One is on the software part of it. So, we are engineers who are dedicated to developing the controllers, and there are engineers working on the power electronics of it for module manufacturing. So we do software and hardware both. The software has to get integrated with the hardware. So, the complete designing of the controller is happening in-house. complete architecture happens in-house. now if you talk about the spare components and electronics, I know 80% comes from China but we can't help it. The semiconductor, semi-controllers come from China, we can't help it. The only thing you can help is that you can make a good product using those semiconductors. So that my R&D team is focused on. The application part of it. how to use them, that is the focus of the R&D and they have achieved pretty good results as of now.
Anurag that's great to hear that you have R&Dgoing on, its very heartening to hear. Let's talk a little bit about the specific products itself, the different types, the different varieties that you got, and the hardware features of these products.
Got it, so let me answer your question in parts. we segregate our products according to the low voltage, medium voltage, and high voltage. Low voltage is usually used for e-rickshaws, bikes, TATA Tigor, Mahindra eVerito, Mahindra e2os. Medium voltage and high voltage for fast charing. For corporates, we usually give low rating 20-30 KW chargers which can have CCS, CHAdeMo both cables. Then we have public infrastructure where 122 KW, 50-50 and 22KW AC gun is required so we have that product, catering to that. For public infrastructure we also have 150 KW, can go CHAdeMo, CCS, GBT you can name which, so you can have any combination. you can have 2 gun combination, you can have 3 gun combination. It depends on the customer. 3 gun combination for all the 3 DC protocols but we have TYPE2 AC and CHAdeMo and CCS already working and already we are giving to our customers. Then we have superfast chargers for busses 240 KW. 360 KW, 180 KW. So you can see a lot of these chargers installed point to point. So, again I will give you an example of Shimla we have installed 180 KW of chargers. We have Bangalore -Tirupati project which is coming up, we are installing 240 KW chargers, then we have Mumbai Pune where we are using 150 KW chargers. These are all CCS operated and GB/T operated. For bus usually, that is the only protocol followed. CHAdeMo comes under the public infrastructure and for the car side.
Awesome, it's very interesting to hear that you have tripple gun charger. What is this product all about and why you need it to have 3 guns?
This product was purely developed because of the Govt. tender requirement where they are asking for 3 gun models. Type 2 + 50 +50. Now I have got a pretty good experience of 3-4 years of now installing chargers. Never have I seen, perfect parking where 3 parking is available and charger are installed in such a way that 3 cars can get simultaneously charged. you don't have space like that available in India. Second part is that if you just give a 50 KWCharger with a CCS and a CHAdeMo, it still solves the purpose because the hardware cost of that charger will be pretty less than the triple gun model. Also, it occupies a huge space. so its a 122 KW, 150 kW charger, it's a huge charger. I don't see that charger is getting installed in any building. First of all, you do not have any power. Don't know why they want to do it. if it's even on highways I understand it but in the cities, I don't think so that configuration is required. You can have that configuration at a lower rating, not for 122 KW, you can have it at 30KW 40 KW.
In practicality, I don't see where you will get a 122 KW of ready power and install it. It's good to have on the book that oh you have all these 3 guns but personally, I would say AC Charging has to be separated. You cannot have the same gun. Combined gun. because you can have 2 guns in one DC charging, AC charging is so small, you can have a separate charger for it. Why do you want to have it in the same charger? It unrealistically adds 3 guns, maybe they get tangled with each other. It's high power equipment I am talking about. You know how we use it. so it is not practically suited. It's not feasible to have such a 3 gun charger. In India it's not required. You can have a separate AC charger and have DC charging separate.
A little bit more about the software features, what kind of software does this charger come with? Do these chargers come with and what are the features?
So, software, when you talk about charger software, we have internal software that is operating the charger which is constantly getting upgraded, you know as per the requirements of the customer. Then ww have remote monitoring controller which talks to remote monitoring software, people who have an OCPP 1.6 cloud service. Over there you have plenty of features, like real-time data, how much consumption is happening, status of my charger, driver profiles, what time he came, what time he left, all of those features are available on the remote side. On the charger side, on the screen you can see, definitely voltage, current, the start time-end time, then the demand coming from the BMS, the temperature, all of those things you can see on the charger.. Most of the features, is all remotely, what I can do remotely. Remote start, remote stop. I can also change the power of the chargers. So say, you come to find that okay fine this bus is getting charge slowly, I want to increase its power. if the charger has the capability you can just increase the power remotely.
So mainly it will cater to fleet operators, people who have large number of vehicles or people who have large number of chargers
People who want that data, people who want that feature. They really would like to go for the software. We are capable enough to connect to any OCPP compliant software but we would like to manage the software ourselves. So, we are more into the hardware of the charger than the software on the remote side. We are not actually invested in that as of now.
Now let's move on to the business model. Tell us more, since MassTech seems to be focussing more on the B-B and charging equipment. Are you accepting dealerships at this present moment?
As of now, that is where Panasonic comes into play. Panasonic is our sales partner for handling such situations. Dealership as of now MassTech is not offering because there is no demand as of now. So, for the dealers to have such a huge business. If an individual customer comes to me and says I want to buy chargers from you, I will say ok. You dont need a dealership for it. If you buy from me and sell it to another person, he can still do it. you don't need dealership for it. We have not signed any exclusive dealership agreements as of now completely. There are few people according to regions that have interests but anyone is open to, go to our website, send us an inquiry and we will definitely get back to you.
Awesome! Anurag, thank you so much. We will be moving on to the community questions.
EV Community Questions
- Sateesh Reddy, 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? How can we make them cheaper?
You know it's very interesting questions about what he has asked. I would like to answer that question saying that, you know what AC Chargers start from 5000 and aim till 2 Lakh also. I have seen a huge number of Indian startups who have started manufacturing AC chargers themselves and its a good thing. Trust me, its a very good thing. According to the OEMs and according to the design of the product and according to the certification what the product has, okay the pricing depends. If my product is a superior product CE Certified, IEC Certified from ARAI, and other agencies I will definitely add a premium to my product because it is certified to a certain quality. There are certain people who launch the product and they are not certified and they are available in the market for 15000/- Rs, 20,000/- Rs, 30,000 but you can manufacture that product for 10,000/- also but it depends. So when you go for certification that is where you will actually know, okay to achieve this safety criterion, I had to do this feature in the charger. To achieve this characteristic I have to do this in the charger. So this is how the charger cost is dependant. if the only Undervoltage, over voltage surge protection is there the charger can be made in 10,000/- Rs not more than that. There are features like LCD screen, remote monitoring capability, SIM Card facility, LAN card capability, all this increases the charger cost. So, we also keep our charger pretty modular. So, people who want to go for the lower version, we have AC-001 for them, then we have 7 KW solo, which is a premium product. So we give them that product so, that product you know the pricing for that and you know the pricing for AC-001. There is a huge difference for that. So it depends on the features. what is feature and certification of the product. You will see ABB and Siemens selling those chargers for 80-90000/- Rs the same chargers, we have at a pretty low rate with the same certification. So, it depends on the customer to the customer. it depends on the brand that they are selling. It depends on what you want to be Apple or you want to be Samsung, it depends. what strategy you are applying to your product.
- Rajiv Shah, Noida
What do you think about many of these socket based boards like “Kirana Charger”?
They offer a simple socket and call it a “Charger. Would you recommend those compared to a full fledged EVSE?
I would suggest that you know all those kirana chargers. I am not against them Trust me! that is the way to go forward. you need those chargers, you need community charging more and more. but you also need to understand the safety aspect from it. How reliable is that charger? How reliable is the meter reading coming out of that charger? If I take a 3rd party meter, okay, and your reading says 6 KW and I am charging you at 12 KW. Will you pay? As in you have to pay but then, how you going to certify what reading comes out of the charger is proper. So as of now what Kirana chargers I have seen, they are all bogus, they don't have real meters in them, they have some controllers which are dong the calculations, you know multiplying voltage and current. that is not the way to go forward. You need proper meters which are utility approved meters NTPC, Approved from Class B meters not even Class A. Class B is .5 class accuracy meters. You need those meters. we need those meters on the site. Those meters itself cost around 6-7000 Rs. So the idea of having a Kirana Charger at 5000/- Rs is good but you are compromising on the actual reading coming in, you are compromising on the features, compromising on the product quality also somewhere.
Right, one would probably use it for an electric cycle, electric scooter.
Cycle or 2- 3 wheelers I don't mind. Cycles and 3 wheelers have plenty of spare parts, that you can change the spare parts at low cost. I will not charge my e2o or the Kona with those chargers. If something happens to my onboard charger it is a huge expense. and it is not covered under insurance. If anything happens to your onboard charger via grid it is not covered under insurance.
Right, so that's a big issue.
Yes, that is a big issue.so, it depends on the person, if it's an urgent matter 15 AMP socket is also ok, why you need that Kirana Charger. True in case of emergencies, people are desperate sometimes, but still its always better to find a charging socket and EVSE to do the job.
this really was a deep dive into the Indian EVSE sector and also educating us about Masstech.
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