Offer the convenience of a one stop solution for charging to customers
India currently has 5,294 publicly-available EV charging stations, but 48,000 more are being planned by 2026/2027. The country’s EV sales are projected to grow at a CAGR of 66.52% through to 2030 and 349,646 EVs were sold across India in the first quarter of 2023 — which is a 81% y-o-y jump — with electric 2Ws and 3Ws dominating the sales.
However, range anxiety remains a concern, particularly amongst private owners that may follow a fixed route everyday. Unlike petrol pumps, charging stations are not yet widely sighted on key routes within cities or highways, and given the various service providers and their incompatibility with all EVs, finding appropriate charging stations remains a challenge for EV owners.
The solution has been devised in the form of e-aggregator startups, whose mobile platform acts as a one-stop shop for EV owners to charge their vehicles at any charging station, regardless of the service provider. The e-aggregator platform essentially collects information from the EV user once, helps them locate the nearest EV charger and grants them access to the facility through its internal arrangements with the chargers’ operators.
How it’s charging the game
India has several different service providers for EV charging. For instance, Tata Power has 3,600 public/semi-public stations across the country, while ChargeGrid at the moment has 200 stations, which it eventually plans to expand to 4,000.
Fig. 1: The location of India’s public EV charging stations | Image: Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)
This causes issues for EV owners since access to most of the charging stations is controlled via dedicated mobile apps that must be downloaded to use the service. It implies that every time an EV user wants to charge their EVs at a charger they don’t have prior access to, they must go through the process of installing a new app on their phones that includes:
- Accepting all its terms and conditions
- Uploading their identification details
- Uploading their payment information (credit/debit cards, bank account details, PayTM etc.)
- Information on the vehicle to be charged, or its VIN number for the system to identify its make and specifications
The process can be repetitive, tedious and potentially drive away customers from owning an EV at all.
E-Aggregators are becoming a one stop solution that houses information about all kinds of charging stations and companies on one platform.
Fig. 2: Tata Power’s EV charging stations and its tie-ups with other service providers to increase the chargers’ accessibility | Image: Tata Motors
For example, ElectricPe is a Bengaluru-based e-aggregator startup that has partnered up with Hero Electric, residential societies that are registered with NoBroker, Electric One (a chain of EV super stores) and JSW Group (one of India’s biggest business conglomerates) to onboard their charging points into its app. Its users are charged a commission for using the service, which varies according to the timing of use, location and type of charge point operator to generate revenue. ElectricPe currently offers 5,000 EV chargers in Bengaluru.
Fig. 3: A screenshot of the ElectricPe app | Image: ElectricPe
Other such startups include EV Plugs (that provides access to EV chargers from EESL, Tata Power, Ather, Statiq and Magenta), EvyEnergy and Chargemiles.
The services’ usefulness is also supported by the fact that ElectricPe has secured a $3million seed fund from a consortium of funders, led by Micelio Fund and Blume Ventures, and by the sheer number of charging point providers across the country. As their sales continue to grow exponentially, the owners of India’s EVs will demand ever-easier access to charging facilities and a singular platform that facilitates this access will be a major addition to the country’s transition to e-mobility.