When it comes to the business dynamics of the emerging electric vehicle industry in India, pioneer EV entrepreneur and Sun Mobility’s VC & o-founder Chetan Maini is among people who could know it better. After BaaS (Battery as a Service), aimed at addressing a key hurdle of battery cost in the adoption of EVs, Sun Mobility has now added a new vertical of MaaS (Mobility as a Service). MaaS is gaining traction as the overall mobility industry evolves, but the driving factor behind Sun Mobility’s new strategy is also to accelerate EV adoption in the country.
“From our point of view, the adoption of electrics has been challenged by high cost, range anxiety, long refuelling time. Fleets and others are very keen to get on but they are also concerned about warranty and maintenance and a host of other issues, charging infrastructure (as they scale their business up). And MaaS truly addresses these issues,” Maini tells Autocar Professional. The integrated service offering provides customers an all-in bundled solution comprising electric vehicles with the flexibility of unlimited swap plan for the duration of the contract. A key pitch is a high uptime for the EVs with Sun Mobility’s 2-minute battery swap promise.
Roll out of Sun Mobility’s new business started a couple of weeks ago, and over a hundred EVs have come on board the MaaS platform. The company’s plan is to plan have over a thousand vehicles in the next months, and hopes to provide the service to a million EVs by 2025. All vehicles initially will be electric three-wheelers, primarily Piaggio vehicles, but Sun Mobility will be targeting other segments too. “The MaaS has started off in the goods segment, but this over time will expand to all the other segments too,” says Maini.
Sun Mobility’s key market pitch is its battery swap technology which uses Smart Batteries that are smaller, modular and inter operable across 2-wheelers and 3-wheelers from various OEMs and include tamper-proof GPS and advanced telematics. The company so far has a network of 65 ‘Swap Points’ across 14 cities in India. Each of them can swap 200 batteries a day, says Maini. The ‘heart’ of Sun Mobility’s overall solution is a cloud based IoT platform called Smart Network that generates and processes vehicle and battery related data in real-time and enables intelligent decision making for fleet and network management.
As the mobility industry, and along with it the EV industry, advances, Sun Mobility could also look at carving out the MaaS business vertical into a separate entity in the future. “We currently keep it integrated within the company but over time it’s possible that that could be a separate entity,” says Maini.
As for business segments, after BaaS and MaaS, Sun Mobility could enter another business segment or two in the near future. All businesses will share the twin goal of better affordability and accelerating electric mobility. “To achieve that goal, maybe we think we would do beyond that (MaaS) in the future,” says Maini. As the journey progresses, Sun Mobility is expected to strike new partnerships.