Electric Vehicle Revolution: An Ocean of Opportunities?

Electric Vehicle Revolution
Author: Pushpendra Vishal Kaushal, (Ex-Head of Business Operations, leading startup in building EV infrastructure, Series A)


Today’s economies are dramatically changing, triggered by development in emerging markets, the accelerated rise of new technologies, sustainability policies, and changing consumer preferences around ownership. Digitization, increasing automation, and new business models have revolutionised multiple industries, and the automotive (Electric Vehicle) industry will be no exception. These forces are giving rise to four disruptive technology-driven trends in the automotive sector: diverse mobility, autonomous driving, electrification, and connectivity. Most industry players and experts agree that the four trends will reinforce and accelerate one another and that the automotive industry is perfectly set for disruption.

Today we will discuss the various opportunities that electrification and connectivity bring to the table and how they will create an ocean of opportunities for the tech start-ups working in this space.

India’s automotive industry contributes approximately 7–8% of the annual GDP and potentially faces a paradigm shift with the move to electric vehicles as per the ambitious targets set by the government of India for 2030. The vision for 2030, as identified by NITI Aayog, sets an ambitious target of 70% of all commercial cars, 30% of private cars, 40% of buses, and 80% of two-wheeler (2W) and three-wheeler (3W) sales to be electric by 2030, which effectively translates into a total sale of 102 million vehicles.

This transition towards electric mobility is driven by the perceived need for improved air quality, reduced dependence on oil imports, climate action, and decarbonisation of end-use sectors (World Economic Forum and Ola Mobility Institute 2019). The policy moves by the government of India in the last couple of years confirm these to be priorities for India, and indicate an increasing commitment towards an electric mobility-based transportation future.

The government of India has been supporting the EV industry through schemes such as FAME1 and FAME2 with a major focus on charging infrastructure. The industry players too have been quite optimistic and shown an active interest in the overall EV charging ecosystem. While EVs are being worked upon by major automotive OEMs, an ecosystem for the development of chargers, charging stations, and other services is steadily being built by the charger OEMs and the charge point operators.

The electric vehicle ecosystem

The electric vehicle ecosystem consists of the electric vehicle, electric vehicle users, and the charging infrastructure.

The first component of the ecosystem is electric vehicles. The electric vehicles have a lot of sensors and generate a lot of data in real time, which is then transmitted to the OEM servers. The OEMs use this data to understand the interactions of the various components of the vehicles. In the long run, the data can be used to perform predictive analytics for preventive maintenance and to avoid any failures that can lead to fatal accidents.

The data collected also includes the data from the Battery Management System (BMS), which helps the OEMs to identify the best combination of batteries to gain the maximum range and the precautions that should be taken to avoid any accidents related to batteries, as the major reason for fires in EVs is the improper usage or charging of batteries.

The OEMs have also provided control to the end user using connected apps that inform the user about the real-time health of the vehicle, which includes the state of charge of the vehicle (SOC), the pressure in the tyres and other key information that may be beneficial for the end user.

The data collected in real time can prove to be a gold mine as it helps understand the vehicle’s performance, the driver’s skills, and can provide essential data points to the involved stakeholders like insurance companies to have data-driven decisions while deciding the premium of a policy being offered to a specific vehicle or an end user.

This will also help organisations identify the root causes associated with the failure or accident of any vehicle, which in turn will help them improve the vehicle for the larger population’s use.

This opens a lot of opportunities for tech companies as they can become integral parts of the ecosystem and can help the industry by collecting the most important data points, helping improve the BMS and vehicle management systems to be more robust and dependable, helping analyse the huge amount of data generated by these vehicles and providing conclusive outcomes that can help the stakeholders in taking the next steps. Also, this opens a wide front for the data collection platforms to store this data and for the front-end application platforms to show this data to the end users.

The 2nd component of the ecosystem is the electric vehicle users who use these vehicles to commute to places and generate a huge digital footprint. This digital footprint is another gold mine as this would help a lot of businesses related to the industry to identify the hot spots of these users, which will help these businesses setup shops and provide targeted services to these end users. This also helps the OEMs to understand the requirements of sales and service centres around these hot spots to ensure that they can provide a seamless experience to the end users.

This data also helps in determining the carbon footprint reduction by the users, and best practises can be shared with the end users to help them receive the maximum benefit from the vehicle, effectively reducing their carbon footprint. The user can also be made aware of the various ways in which they can further reduce their carbon footprint, e.g., through the usage of renewable energy-based charging stations in the vicinity.
The data can also be used to provide predictive services to these users about the various facilities available, e.g., charging stations, food courts, service stations, etc., and the offers going on in the area. The data can also help the end users quickly get help from the emergency services when in need and can prove to be lifesaving in multiple scenarios, including accidents.

The 3rd component

of the ecosystem is the electric vehicle chargers. Electric vehicle chargers are one of the most important pieces of the ecosystem, especially the public DC chargers, and the reason for the same is the time taken by EVs to charge themselves. Currently, the EVs take 7-8 hours on average to charge on an AC charger and 45-90 minutes to charge on a DC fast charger. The DC Fast chargers are IOT enabled chargers that continuously coordinate with the central server and usually follow the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP).
The data generated by these chargers includes the current status of the connectors of the chargers, the current status of the chargers, the charging parameters (in case of an active charge), and the error codes in case there is an issue with the charger.

This data is used by the charge point operators (CPOs) for billing the users and analysing the utilisation of the chargers as well as monitoring the chargers remotely to identify any issues that may have come up. The real-time data is used by EV owners to identify active chargers enroute to their destinations so that they can quickly top up their vehicles and continue the journey. Similar to the EV OEMS, the data generated by the chargers is used by the charger OEMs to identify and understand the issues happening within the chargers or while charging the electric vehicles so that they can be rectified at the earliest and the end users can be given the best services.

The charging data generated by the chargers also provides helpful insights about the utilisation of the chargers, the charging patterns of the EV owners, and the average stoppage time of the users, which helps in identifying opportunities for setting up new EV chargers and the areas where these should be setup. This data will also help the electricity distribution companies with better demand management in the long run, as the load on the grid will depend a lot on the load requirements of these EV chargers, and this can lead to grid instability if not managed properly.

With everything said, we can understand that the electric vehicle ecosystem opens an ocean of opportunity for the tech companies to work within the ecosystem either at the data generation points or at the data analysis points to provide valuable insights to the end users ranging from the electric vehicle owners, electric vehicle and charger OEMs, and all the related entities, which if explored the right way can open doors to gold mines of data.

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