Vilas Tank is a business leader having 25 years of global experience in overall business transformation, product development, commercialization, strategy, sales, marketing & manufacturing as well as startups. The founder and managing director of Aventose Energy speaks to Aditi Kelkar about his electric scooter, research areas and his views on mass adoption of EVs in India.
Why did you feel compelled to build Aventose? What do you hope to achieve?
AVENTOSE stands for A VENture TO Save Earth. What we do as a civilization in next 10 years will decide the future of life on earth. Our vision is to exponentially increase the adoption of electric vehicles and reduce carbon emission drastically by 2030. We hope to convert 5% of Indian two-wheeler market into Aventose electric vehicle in next 5 years.
Could you tell us more about your upcoming maiden electric scooter Aventose S110?
Aventose S110 is a rugged electric 2-wheeler indigenously developed for Indian use conditions in tier 1, 2 & 3 cities. It will come with max speed of 60 kmph and range of 100 km in eco mode. Its design is result of detailed voice of customer (VOC) and targets 85% of Indian 2-wheeler market which is currently dominated by petrol 100cc -125cc two-wheelers. Due to our obsessive customer focus and many differentiating factors, Aventose S110 will be able to have very high adoption rate.
We would love to know more about Aventose’s product portfolio and the future launches.
We have a 10-year product and technology roadmap out of which S110 is the first product. We plan to launch 3 models to target multiple two-wheeler segments. S110 is the entry level electric scooter and will be followed by S125 scooter which will have higher performance and increased range of 150 km in eco mode. M125 will be launched to target current 125cc ICE motorcycles segment. All the aforementioned models will be launched before 2023 end. Apart for two-wheelers we are also working on passenger and loading three-wheelers.
How is Aventose catering to the diverse population of India with urban and rural commutes?
Aventose S110 is for everyone and for all seasons and reasons. It is rugged, reliable, multi-age, unisex and multi-utility vehicles, suitable for customers from urban and rural markets. Various stakeholders’ inputs were taken during the design and testing process. These include males & females riders of different ages in tier 1, 2 and 3 cities. Single as well as family riders. People who use it commercially such as micro entrepreneurs, fleet owners and fleet riders, ecommerce companies and last but not the least EV dealers.
What according to you are the infrastructure and resources required to support mass adoption of EV in India?
There are 3 low hanging fruit categories which can be targeted to ‘initiate’ mass adoption of EV in India. By targeting these 3 categories we can achieve higher mass adoption without investing too much on the charging infrastructure ‘upfront’. All these should be slow, mostly overnight charging solutions which do not put burden on the grid during the day when the requirement is already high.
First category of two and three wheelers don’t require very big batteries and hence can work with portable battery solutions which can be charged off board mostly at homes. Charging off board will increase the adoption of this category as the dependency on day charging at public fixed charging and swapping stations is reduced. Having said that it does not mean that we do not focus on public fixed charging and swapping solution. These will also develop parallelly but may take time to spread infrastructure all over India.
Second low hanging fruit category is passenger car segment. For mass adoption of this category charging points need to be made mandatory at parking lots of apartments, office buildings, shopping centres, restaurants, petrol pumps etc. This will not require new infrastructure but update of existing one with slow charging.
Last category is city buses for which charging stations can be made at all bus depots for overnight charging.
Needless to say that above or any other mass adoption plan will only work if government lays down very strict battery safety policy and ramps up the electricity supply and setup of efficient grid network. Focus also should be on slow overnight charging as fast daytime charging may put load on already stressed electric supply.
Our readers will be excited to know about the research focus areas at Aventose that would support the EV adoption in India.
We are continuously working on component, software as well as system level research areas to push the boundaries and bring our electric vehicles at par with the ICE counterparts. But building a good electric product by itself may not help achieve mass adoption. In order to achieve mass adoption, we will have to also create an ecosystem which allows same user convenience as currently enjoyed by the ICE vehicle users. This includes ease of refuelling, reselling, dealership presence, servicing, spare parts availability, financing, insurance etc. Apart from product level development we have been focusing on all the ecosystem parameters to support mass adoption of Aventose vehicles in India.
What are you looking forward to the most in this exciting time for EV with what Aventose has to offer?
From the concept to production we have done things differently. Our customer obsessive approach during VOC, development and testing stage and focus on ecosystem for mass adoption has resulted in a product which is designed in India from scratch for Indian conditions. Even though there has been continuous feedback and learning there is still lot of excitement for the launch and initial market response.
While EV adoption is gaining traction, there are safety concerns bothering many. How is Aventose ensuring safety?
We have implemented multiple layers of safety due to which we have not had any incidences since last 2 years of our product testing in various climate conditions.
First and foremost, our efficient transmission design prevents any stress on the battery and motor. Secondly, our proprietary vehicle control unit continuously monitors the health of all the components in the vehicle and pre-empts any untoward situation. Thirdly, we have been working closely with high quality component suppliers when it comes to cells, batteries, BMS and charger to make sure we have all the components work in sync as safe single unit. And lastly, we have been testing the vehicles for last 2 years in Indian climate and road conditions to make sure all the layers are work properly.
What are the possible hurdles for EV in India, according to you?
Statistically, daily distance ridden by an average Indian is well within range given by reliable EVs currently present in the market. Whole industry is evolving, and the users will adapt to the new mindset regarding the range and charging point.
Two major possible hurdles for mass EV adoption accordingly to me would be quality of battery and other components used in the electric vehicles in order to make them affordable. Poor EV quality and battery accidents may make people reluctant to switch over. Secondly power grids will have to keep up with the rising demand as more and more transport electrification happens.
What’s your opinion on the battery swapping policy?
The draft battery swapping policy is a comprehensive and well thought out first step. Of course, after implementation and learning lot of updates may continue to happen. Battery swapping is very important step for mass adoption in high density cities.
Having said that I believe battery swapping policy is one of the many steps needed for mass adoption of electric two and three wheelers. Off board charging at home will still remain the main driver of adoption as there is no dependency in setting up of new infrastructure. Standards and policy for high quality battery, chargers and electric vehicles should be laid down by the government to help safe off board charging of electric vehicles.
As a young start-up incorporated in 2019, what would be Aventose’s advice to budding start-ups that are planning to get into the EV game?
I would suggest understanding the market and taking continuous customer feedback during development and testing stages. Secondly, testing the product intensively before launching it in the market.
What would you want to leave the readers with on account of the 75th Independence Day and with India’s foray into EV?
India has a very big opportunity and responsibility in hand. Till now we have been global technology followers. Today we have chance to be a global leader not just in EV technology but also in the fight against climate change. We are sitting at a cusp from where either we can make the right choices and set an example for the rest of the world or spiral down a very dangerous climate situation for our future generations.
I urge all the readers, EV industry and other clean energy stakeholders like, users, OEMs, component manufacturers to focus on ‘long term business and climate sustainability’ rather than shortcuts while taking day to day decisions.