My name is Vivek Vidhyasagar, I am one of the Founder and Director in this company and this specific project YeLaundry. I am not an expert in writing blogs so unsure if the blog is going to be entertaining but I will give my try to keep it informative on the topic that I wanted to write about here "Why choose Electric Vehicles" and a background about our thought process, evaluation methodologies, realistic challenges that you will face so on and so forth. This is a personal opinion and my own journey in this exercise.
We own 3 Electric vehicles (three-wheeler) in our fleet now and are focussed to increase the same as we progress further in our Idea too. If you ask why 3, 3-wheeler electric vehicles and not 2 or more or may be even less. I am not going to say an astronomical definition for the reason to choose 3 it was just that we needed only these many vehicles to support us in our Beta testing that was based on the locations that we had opted for in Pune, also the availability of budget and being conservative provided the various challenges that exists in the infrastructure availability for Electric vehicles.
Like I mentioned above, I will give a summary of my thoughts and the process we adopted before we purchased our EV.
1. Why (How) did we choose Electric Vehicles as a solution for our fleet management?
2. What were the various factors that we discussed before choosing the vendor whom we opted for?
3. Conclusion – First Experience, Benefits
Answer to Bullet point 1: The idea to leverage Electric vehicles as an option was seeded at least about 6 months before by my friend, mentor who guides me each day in both aspects of a human life tagged as personal and professional. It is true it took us 6 months before we released our purchase order given the reason of unable to determine a certain purchase check list that we might use if we are purchasing a regular motor vehicle be it 2 or 4 wheeler; there were more dis-advantages that exists in this solution, fairly competitors are also more now even if not within Pune but as electric vehicle solution providers in India. However, the person who seeded this thought had certain valuable points that made me consider the reason to support this decision;
1. Value of our company and the project – giving back to the society, necessity to support the mother Earth for the future generations and also a responsible citizen / entrepreneur. It is a ZERO Emission Vehicle
2. Vision of the Indian Government to promote Electric Vehicles and the very reason that it is Pollution free and need for the current global warming challenges that we are facing in our country and also across the globe.
3. Forecasted Reduction in cost of operations (like and not limited to only running cost, maintenance, reliability etc.) for over a duration of about 8 to 14 months based on projected sales, average distance to be covered for the logistical requirements in the project. There are studies that says 50 paise or less than that for a KM.
P.S: I personally do not know unless we use it for a while.
4. Disruption in the market by leveraging such solutions for daily essential needs of human life; here “Laundry” (solution is not new, but we purchased this even before Amazon had advertised about electric vehicle fleet solution 😊)
5. Leverage this vehicle for increasing awareness about the project and the company. I was convinced here that it was worth an investment considering the cost for bill boards, hoardings and other printed media marketing solutions that are currently available
6. There might be other points but this is the FIVE that I can think of which helped me align to this thought
Answer to Bullet point 2: There are very limited or no companies today in the Indian market that exists which manufactures their own products that are required to manufacture an Electric Vehicle. I am not referring to the body or chassis of the vehicle but the Brain and Heart that drives EV on the road.
After spending sufficient time trying to evaluate various vehicles, I can summarise this into my own Acronym as DPATS means Design, Procure, Assemble, Test and Sell. <<% of market share is significantly less; you have a choice to run your own company if you have the passion and necessary funds to drive it.>>
I might be wrong to say that there is no company but based on the locations we tried to find a service provider which includes New Delhi, Kolkata, Gujarat, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai and Coimbatore we were not able to identify one vendor who doesn’t fall into this category of DPATS. There is a difference in design, name of the vehicle, colour of the vehicle but the fundamental parts required to run the vehicle like Battery (Lead Acid or Lithium), Motor, Controller, Brakes which can be either Hydraulic Drum Brakes, Hand Lever Rear Parking Brake or combination of both there is no difference.
I do not want to list the companies that we reviewed as it is not about Advantages and Dis-advantages of a company but I will share the factors that we considered before finalising the vendor;
1. Company – number of years in relevant business, leadership, number of employees, value of the company (Revenue), their locations for both sales and manufacturing
2. Design options like two-wheeler, three-wheeler; then further classifications of vehicles within the same
3. Number of vehicles sold till date, locations, customers to whom the vehicles were sold to help understand the end user purpose
4. Reference information of customers; we had a database of around 10 customers and randomly chose 3 or 4 vendors whom we personally visited to seek inputs and also spoke to all of them over telephone to understand advantages and dis-advantages.
5. Recognitions & Certifications; which includes Design (E.G: ARAI, BIS, ICAT), Process customer so on and so forth
6. After Market Strategy which includes the methodology followed by them for servicing like number of free services, days required for servicing, average service cost and additional facilities available from OEM for the customer after sales
7. Pro Active Maintenance schedule to increase the reliability of the vehicle and also reduce any possible break down.
8. Test Drive of the vehicle; we also drove customers vehicle and also the vehicles available from the supplier for test drive. This is a very critical step in the selection process as it will help you understand multiple things in this. I tried to evaluate on driving comfort which includes sitting comfort, visibility from rider position in all 360 degrees (given the fact we are in India), road types - flat, slippery, steep, greater than 40 degree inclination, with and without load, bumpy roads, metallic body of the vehicle, possible options for rust, feel of the breaks, feel of noise that can be caused like vibrations, tyre noise, motor, any other noise that can be created either due to friction or environmental factors, security for both vehicle, person riding it, other additional features. Don’t be afraid to ask for another test drive if you’re still unsure and until you are sure.
9. Warranty of critical parts in the vehicle like battery, control unit, motor, electrical parts with wirings and any other accessories
10. Battery – really understanding the difference between Lead Acid and Lithium Ion; the one we purchased is equipped with Lithium Ion Phosphate. Charging time, intelligence in charging if any available (battery backup system) like automatic cut over once the batteries are fully charged, maximum output like depth of discharge, efficiency, distance it can travel, duration required for full charging and benefits in these two different varieties
11. Engineering of the vehicle which includes like braking system, electrical part, shock absorber systems, load capacity, power etc.
12. Cost of the vehicle including insurance, registration fees and anything else
13. Speed that the vehicle can travel including its performance when vehicle is fully loaded and have to drive on a steep road. RTO has a restriction of 25Kmph but I feel for purpose like this it is good that there are speed restrictions.
There might be other points also for you to consider like payment terms, delivery timelines etc. and any additional accessories that they will provide like Electric Vehicle charging unit, power cable and so on. Above are the points that I considered while evaluating this solution.
Answer to Bullet point 3: with we have purchased our vehicles (photo shared in the blog for your reference) we are just experiencing its benefits and challenges. Cost of purchasing Lithium Ion batteries are minimum 30% more than the vehicle with Lead Acid batteries; I will strongly recommend purchasing Lithium batteries as except for cost other parameters like capacity, depth of discharge, efficiency, lifespan these batteries are really beneficial. Also, in our operations we do not have dedicated resources to manage the vehicles and will be in the hands of riders who will be working with us in this project.
1. Low Operating Cost compared to even CNG or Petroleum products and also from our business perspective also this solution is very beneficial when the fleet management is in the responsibility of my company.
2. Easy Charging – not more than 3 hours to fully charge the vehicle and drive minimum of 80 Km to 90 Km
3. Leveraging this vehicle for our marketing purpose; we are currently driving an average of around 3 hours in multiple places in Pune trying to help understand our business and purpose to the customers and create an awareness. In Pune average cost for hoarding for a month is around Rs. 30,000 to 1,00,000 and other printed media advertisements like lolly pop is like INR 2000 per month per print. In a city like Pune we may need like more than 10000 such posters to get some awareness
4. Battery Technology like almost Zero maintenance, lithium-ion battery for up to 3 years of life.
5. Attraction for the vary purpose that I had explained earlier in the for reason of choosing EV and also marketing expenses
6. There are other benefits too which is more for our business and is not necessarily need to be same for you.
Constraints: (The Perfect Storm!!!)
1. Parking space – it is a fixed cost that has to be incurred if there is no secured place available. We are having 3 vehicles now in our fleet but it is a fixed cost and will increase as we increase
2. Safety of the vehicle – because there are no doors and is practically impossible to put doors as it increases the weight of the vehicle too. Safe guarding accessories like horn, reverse parking system, switches etc. While we have put adequate locks and installed additional fabrication to protect the control unit, batteries etc. they are always at risk of theft that will almost make you spend 80% of the vehicle cost to replace them if there are any issues like this
3. No infrastructure available for charging other than your designated parking spaces which puts your business in threat if you are thinking of using these vehicles for deliveries or any logistic requirements.
4. Brakes – Hydraulic brakes; as you know it works on the concept of pascal law there is always a possibility of leakage, that can cause the braking be compromised
5. Leaf Spring suspension with telescopic shocker however it is not still adequate. The rear wheels have to be in synchronisation when driving on rough roads to maintain vehicle balance
6. Risk of any failure, theft and external environments of critical components as there are no substitute or cheaper solutions that will increase your expenses.
While there are constraints in this solution, we have a long way to go in nearing 100% perfect product that will be more reliable and robust it is still worth the journey 😊
Thank You, Vivek