India’s electric vehicle (EV) market is expanding rapidly due to a massive influx of manufacturers and new products. Vayve Mobility is a Pune-based original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specialising in EVs. Founded in 2021, the company designs and manufactures EVs for urban applications. In an interview with Renewable Watch, Nilesh Bajaj, CEO and Co-Founder of Vayve Mobility, talks about the company’s key product offerings, issues in the EV market, and future plans. Excerpts…
When was the company formed and who are the key investors?
Vayve Mobility is an electric vehicle OEM based out of Pune. It was founded in 2021 with the objective to design and manufacture vehicles to reshape urban commute. We believe, to enable mass adoption of EV technology in our country, we need purpose-built ground-up solutions. This requires exploration of innovative platforms with an eye on global trends.
We had been bootstrapped till January 2023 to design and showcase the initial product at the Delhi Auto Expo. Recently, we closed an angel round in March 23.
How does the company differentiate itself from its competitors in terms of technology, design, and innovation in the EV industry?
In this rapidly evolving market, we are differentiating ourselves by:
- Focusing on urban mobility: As EV technology has advanced and marked a shift from traditional ICE vehicles, newer form factors are now possible with innovative designs. Established passenger car OEMs are using legacy platforms and replacing ICE powertrains with EV powertrains, resulting in sub-optimal vehicles in terms of efficiency and usage. Vayve Mobility is working on born-EVs that are purpose-built for urban mobility in India and India-like markets. These products are category creators for new passenger vehicle market segments.
- Being market fit: Legacy OEMs associate the small car category with a low-income consumer mindset, compromising comfort features to reduce costs. However, we are taking a new approach to the mini-mobility segment by launching an aspirational yet reasonably priced car to guarantee its widespread adoption as a commuter vehicle. The concept of solar charging is hugely appealing to consumers, yet it is uniquely out of reach for the traditional car segment due to its high weight/surface area ratio.
- New category creation: We are leveraging untapped L5/L7 regulatory categories for urban mobility and making appropriate design choices to enhance the practicality of a just-right sized vehicle. The initial target market for personal vehicle (Eva) is upper-middle-income hybrid households that already have a car for family trips and need a small second or third vehicle for their daily commute and as a quick city runabout. For the e-taxi model, the benchmark total cost of ownership (TCO) is the clear winner, especially versus the cheapest TCO vehicles today, which are CNG-fuelled ICE passenger cars.
- Product design: Smart design choices made in Eva result in exceptional efficiency in terms of space utilisation, energy consumption and battery size. An impressive energy efficiency of 20 km per unit of electricity, makes solar panel integration in the vehicle viable. We have managed to hit the sweet spot between the weight of the car (550 kg) and the size of the solar panel. An Indian customer’s personal vehicle travels 30 km a day on an average. So, even at 10+ km per day from solar, Eva delivers over 30 per cent of the solar driving range without any charging costs for the consumer.
- Making strategic choices: We are building long-term plans to optimise vehicle costs by integrating key aggregates backward and developing, from the start, a local supplier ecosystem to reduce dependency on imports.
How does the company approach sustainability in its EV manufacturing process, and what measures has it taken to reduce its carbon footprint?
We are still a little away from setting up a mass manufacturing unit. Generally, OEMs approach sustainability in their EV manufacturing process by focusing on supply chain sustainability, energy-efficient manufacturing facilities, battery technology, recycling and end-of-life management, carbon neutrality, renewable energy integration, life-cycle assessment and collaborating with industry initiatives. Our target is to be a net-zero carbon manufacturing company by using renewable sources of energy and innovative materials wherever possible without increasing the cost of the final product.
What are the key issues in the EV market and what are the solutions to these challenges?
- EV cost: EVs have a higher upfront cost as compared to their ICE counterparts. Key customer insights indicate that 40 per cent of people travel alone in their car for work, and the average private car occupancy in India is 1.5 passengers. This leads to the creation of a new category of smart city cars that are perfect for daily urban use – two-seater EVs that are cost-effective to enable mass adoption.
- Charging and range anxiety: Eva provides a real-world range of 220+ km, which corresponds with industry leading efficiency figures. An urban commuter travels 30 km on an average daily, which would require a charge only once or twice a week. The modest battery pack enables convenient four hour overnight charging at home on a standard 15 A 240 V AC power socket. As such, we will educate our consumers about the convenience of home (or office) AC charging. Local and state laws are already being put in place to make sure apartment management societies do not block personal charger installations. Additionally, we are building a high voltage battery to support DC fast charging, for an 80 per cent charge in 45 minutes. Providing CCS2 DC charging will be an important premium differentiating feature for early consumers with range anxiety concerns.
- Battery safety: With significant ambient temperatures in tropical conditions, there is a greater need to focus on battery safety. Among the critical components, our in-house high-voltage battery management system (BMS) is being designed with the latest microchips in the market, to monitor and control the charging and discharging of a battery so as to ensure its safe and efficient operation. It ensures that all cases are taken care of and prevents battery failure modes such as over-discharging, over-current and short-circuiting.
A liquid cooled battery pack with an active thermal management system enables us to achieve a true IP68 rating for our complete powertrain. We will also be adhering to the latest AIS-156 standards in India for L5 and L7 categories.
What is the company’s product line for EVs and what type of vehicles does it offer?
We are focusing on two vehicles for urban mobility. The first one is for personal mobility – Eva, a 2-seater personal vehicle. It will have a 250-km range, a 70 kmph top speed, and all the comfort features of a premium hatchback. The target market would be office-goers, homemakers, college students, and seniors who want an easy to manoeuvre and park vehicle for their daily commute.
The second is in the B2B segment, where we would be offering an E-cab, a 5-seater taxi variant with a 400 litre luggage capacity, optimised for its use case and benchmark TCO figures. This would be a perfect intra-city taxi for fleet owners, private owners and government institutions.
What are the key targets and plans of the company?
We plan to vertically integrate and produce battery pack technology, motor-controllers and motors in-house by 2026. Since these are the most critical components in an EV, vertical integration would give us better control of the product development cycle.