‘Data is a key driver of the EV transition’: Amitabh Saran

The founder of the electric three-wheeler start-up Altigreen is bullish about the power of data to enable interactions between various stakeholders in the EV ecosystem, including financiers which are leveraging it to offer customised B2C lending schemes for EV customers.

By Mayank Dhingra calendar 24 Nov 2023 Views icon5134 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
The founder of the electric three-wheeler start-up Altigreen is bullish about the power of data

With telematics, software, and IoT being the powering forces behind several new business models such as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), and Battery-as-a-Service (BaaS) in the rapidly evolving e-mobility landscape, data is emerging as the common binding thread that is connecting all the dots, and enabling the industry’s shift towards electrification.

For Altigreen – a Bengaluru-based e-mobility solutions start-up - which has introduced its range of indigenously-developed electric three-wheelers across the country, and has filed over 32 patents on its proprietary motor, controller, BMS, battery pack, data is an essential ingredient in perfecting the recipe of electric mobility in India.

Speaking at the Autocar Professional India EV Conclave, Amitabh Saran, Founder and CEO, Altigreen, said, “Data is the key driver of the entire transition, and I am certain that EVs will distinguish amongst themselves only through software and data. The future is about a lot of interaction between the various stakeholders, and the only way to get that interaction going and getting better results, will be through data.”

Saran said that Altigreen, since its inception in 2013, realised early on the power of data, and strategised to harness that in empowering the shift towards EVs, especially in the last-mile cargo- and passenger-carrying segment. He further added that the company has seen customer profiles of these electric three-wheelers change over the last three years, and from initial customers primarily being B2B fleet operators, there is an increasing shift towards more driver-cum-owners and captive vehicle owners becoming its customers.

“When we started retailing in 2021, the only takers were B2B fleet customers, and from a start-up perspective, it was easier to sell our vehicles to these corporations for their green quotient. However, the organised segment only forms about 10-15 percent of the total last-mile mobility market, with the larger market lying elsewhere.

“The captive vehicle buyers or the driver-cum-owners form the predominant chunk of the market, and since March 2023, around 15 percent of our sales have come from these customers in the B2C segment, and we have maintained consistency in this trend over the last six months. There is a perceptible change in the mindset of driver-cum-owners, who are now finding it viable to make money while running the vehicle for the initial five years when it is under warranty, rather than the need to retain it for 10 years to break even in case of a conventionally-powered vehicle,” Saran explained.

Data solving EV financing challenges

However, he cautioned the lack of financing options as a detrimental factor, inhibiting EV adoption in this segment, where lending plays a crucial role in retail, and unlike the struggling EVs, ad-hoc financing options are available for over 30 percent of the market for conventionally-powered three-wheelers.

“While we have been able to make inroads especially with the coming of some financial-technology companies which are willing to take the risks in case of B2B sales, for B2C sales is still something that not too many lenders have come forward to. However, we have been able to get Sundaram Finance, and Shriram Finance – both leaders in this space -- on board working with us,” Saran said.

“They are already working with us based on data, which shows the vehicle mileage, battery health, and other things going on in the background. The situation is slowly changing, and few other banks of the likes of the Indian Bank are also joining the fray, and the moment large commercial banks enter this space, interest rates will come down.

“While the change has begun to happen, it is a conservative industry, and I do believe it will take some time. But data remains the focal point of this shift, and allows people to make these tough decisions. In fact, data is enabling financiers to offer customised, and better financing solutions to customers based on their specific usage patterns,” he signed off.

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