In a competitive marketplace, out-of-the-box thinking sometimes helps. Now, electric scooter OEM Dao EV is looking to deploy neighbourhood mom-and-pop stores, also known as ‘kirana’ stores in India, to become active players in its quest for success. Essentially, the kirana stores will act as battery swapping facilities.
Dao EV Tech plans to set up charging docks at small stores and with its dealers, readying a fully charged battery inventory. EV users, in need of a fresh battery, can check availability through an app and reach the store to swap the old battery for a freshly charged one. This, according to Dao, will help reduce range anxiety amongst EV users.
According to Maneesh Singh, Vice-President (Strategic Development), Dao EV, said: “Nobody is going to wait for 3-4 hours to charge their vehicles. For instance, if an e-commerce delivery guy waits that long, around 80% of his productivity is lost. Battery swapping is the solution. We are going to have the distribution model by having docks with fully charged batteries at the kirana stores. When the battery percentage is less, people can log in through the app which displays the battery swap centres. It can either be delivered to you or can be picked up in person.”
According to Singh, these swappable batteries will be charged at a hub and will be replaced with fully charged ones every day. “We are not allowing the stores to charge the batteries. There will be centralised charging hubs. Our network will bring these batteries to charge and replace wherever required. In places with higher density of our vehicles, we will have more such docks. This will solve the problem until a proper battery technology evolves. We expect this to go live before December,” he added.
The Hyderabad-based Dao EV Tech is a start-up which has integrated solution and service expertise from the US and manufacturing and R&D from China. The manufacturing facility is in Hyderabad. Currently, Dao is building its dealership network across multiple markets and will launch its products soon in the Indian market. The product line-up includes the Vidyut 106 and 108, 703 and the Zor 405.
Dao EV plans to launch its e-scooters first in Tier 1 cities like Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Vijayawada, Chennai, Bengaluru and Tier 2 cities like Guntur, Salem and Dharmapuri. It will employ the centralised charging stations strategy which means charging station will be at its dealerships as well as warehouses of e-commerce platforms.
Targeting higher localisation
Dao says it is looking to increase the localisation levels on its products. At present, parts including the chassis, rear and front wheel rim are sourced from India. While the high-speed model has 50 percent localisation, the low speed model’s battery has already been localised. ARAI approval has also been completed.
“We have our partners in Chennai, Gurgaon, Ludhiana. Soon, we will have a triple- digit million dollar investment from Silicon Valley. Our plant in Hyderabad, which covers 50,000 square feet, can assemble around 5,800 units a month. We also make battery packs, BMS and control in-house. We will have 250 dealers on board across India in the next 18 months,” the VP claims.
He points out that they will be ready to cater the market demand. Also, by the year's end, the team also has plans to create an assembly line in Delhi NCR to cater markets like Rajasthan, Kolkata etc.
Speaking about the target markets, the VP said, “Irrespective of the lockdown, there is push towards the EV space. The FAME II subsidy has helped manufacturers to continue selling vehicles with subsidy. There are two phases for us. In phase I, we will sell through dealers unlike other players and will go rural places too. In addition to tier-I cities, we will also go to tier-II cities and have deep roots as much as possible. In phase II, in the land at SEZ in Telangana, we will look for exports. The first market will be the US as we are looking to use the opportunity of zero duty free. Then we will go to Europe and the rest follows later.”