“Revolutionizing Three-Wheeler Transportation: Exponent Energy’s Rapid 15-Minute Charging for India”

Currently, Exponent Energy has 60 charging stations in six cities: Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Hyderabad. Vinayak told TechCrunch that Exponent Energy’s charging stations offer 10x efficiency by charging 20 to 30 vehicles daily, whereas other EV charging stations typically charge two vehicles. Similarly, setting up an Exponent charging station costs nearly $6,000 (500,000 Indian rupees), while a CNG station demands hundreds and thousands of dollars. This has restricted the availability of CNG to around 60 stations in Bengaluru, while Exponent Energy already has 40 charging stations in the city, the executive said. It is also looking to deploy its charging tech on electric buses in India later this year.

India is on the cusp of revolutionizing the three-wheeler passenger vehicle market with a revolutionary new electric model that can charge from 0 to 100% in only 15 minutes. The collaboration between auto manufacturer Omega Seiki Mobility and battery-tech startup Exponent Energy marks a significant step towards India’s mission to electrify 80% of its three-wheelers by 2030, in an effort to reduce emissions.

This game-changing vehicle, called the Stream City Qik, is priced at $3,900 (324,999 Indian rupees) and was officially launched on Friday. It will be available for purchase from May 15 in Delhi and Bengaluru. A revamped version of its predecessor, the Omega Stream City, this new three-wheeler boasts an impressive 8.8kWh proprietary battery pack, providing a range of over 86 miles (126 kilometers).

To achieve this remarkable charging time, the Stream City Qik features the advanced charging technology from Exponent Energy. According to the startup, their charging station, known as the e^pump, is capable of fully charging the battery within 15 minutes. Currently, Exponent Energy has 60 charging stations in six cities, including Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, and Hyderabad. The company has ambitious plans to expand to 100 charging stations in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru by 2024, and to a total of 1,000 stations by 2025. These stations will be available for drivers of the Stream City Qik, offering them a seamless charging experience.

The partnership between Exponent Energy and Omega Seiki Mobility marks a significant expansion for the Bengaluru-based startup, which previously only offered its rapid charging tech for cargo and fleet operations. This move comes at a time when India has seen a substantial increase in the demand for electric three-wheelers, with the passenger segment being over four times the size of the cargo segment, according to government data. In January alone, over 45,000 three-wheeler passenger vehicles were sold, showing a growth of over 43%.

Three-wheeler vehicles are particularly popular with gig workers in India, who use them to transport ride-hail passengers and deliver packages. To further incentivize the adoption of electric three-wheelers, the Indian government has been offering subsidies to both companies and customers.

The collaboration between Exponent Energy and Omega Seiki Mobility builds on the startup’s previous partnerships. In 2022, Exponent worked with Reliance Industries-backed Altigreen and Indian conglomerate Murugappa Group-owned Montra Electric to launch cargo three-wheelers equipped with its fast charging tech. The startup also partnered with Magenta Mobility, funded by Morgan Stanley and BP Ventures, and Fyn Mobility to offer rapid charging for their fleet of vehicles. To date, over 1,000 vehicles, completing over 100,000 charging sessions, currently utilize Exponent Energy’s technology, with plans to expand to 25,000 vehicles by 2025.

Arun Vinayak, co-founder and CEO of Exponent Energy, explains, “We started with cargo to prove out the tech. As we scaled, we realized that individual drivers really love rapid charging because these guys can’t charge their vehicles at home. And they are far more hungry to do more kilometers… they need to keep running, keep going wherever the demand is and go wherever the passenger needs to go.”

To ensure the success of the new three-wheeler, Exponent Energy and Omega Seiki Mobility ran close controller pilots over the past few months to test consumer behavior. They discovered that three-wheelers, carrying up to three passengers, can run for up to 22 hours a day, with two drivers using them sequentially to cater to the high intra-city demand. This highlights the importance of fast charging for passenger three-wheelers. While battery swapping may seem like a viable alternative, Vinayak argues that it is not scalable, saying, “Unless you rapidly charge a swap battery, you run out of batteries. And because these are swappable batteries, you are limited in the size of batteries and have a fairly limited range.”

Exponent Energy’s battery tech utilizes lithium-ion batteries, along with their in-house battery management system, which monitors every cell in real-time during charging. Additionally, the startup’s charging stations incorporate an off-board thermal management system, which uses refrigerated water to maintain the temperature of each battery cell while charging. This enables the 0-100% charging time of 15 minutes, with a 3,000-cycle life warranty.

According to Vinayak, Exponent Energy’s charging stations offer 10 times the efficiency, charging 20 to 30 vehicles daily, compared to other EV charging stations that typically only charge two vehicles. Setting up an Exponent charging station also costs significantly less, at approximately $6,000 (500,000 Indian rupees) compared to a traditional CNG station. This has resulted in limited availability of CNG, with only around 60 stations in Bengaluru, whereas Exponent Energy already has 40 charging stations in the city.

Vinayak explains, “If you give people very rapid refueling capability, very rapid recharging capability, a reliable and dense enough network, people actually stop caring about range.”

Initially only available in Delhi and Bengaluru, the Stream City Qik has plans to expand to new cities later this year. Omega Seiki Mobility is also optimistic about taking its rapid-charging three-wheeler to global markets once it gains enough traction. The company, based in New Delhi, has an annual production capacity of 20,000 vehicles, with four factories spread across North India and the eastern state of Jharkhand. Exponent Energy, on the other hand, currently has a monthly capacity of producing 500 charging units, with plans to increase it to 3,000 by July or August.

Priced competitively at $3,900 (324,999 Indian rupees), the Stream City Qik offers a comparable price point to other electric and gas-powered three-wheelers on the market in India. However, Vinayak and Narang, founder and chairman of Omega Seiki Mobility, stress that their focus is not on pricing, but rather on eradicating the charging anxiety among three-wheeler drivers and potentially increasing their monthly income by up to 30%.

Exponent Energy, founded in 2020, has raised a total of $44.4 million so far, with key investors including Eight Roads Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and TDK Ventures. The startup generated an annual recurring revenue of $6 million in 2023 and has set a goal to reach $72 million by 2025. In addition to three-wheelers, Exponent Energy also has plans to deploy their charging tech on electric buses in India later this year. With their innovative technology and commitment to revolutionizing the transportation industry, Exponent Energy and Omega Seiki Mobility are well-positioned to drive the growth of electric vehicles in India and beyond.

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Zara Khan

Zara Khan is a seasoned investigative journalist with a focus on social justice issues. She has won numerous awards for her groundbreaking reporting and has a reputation for fearlessly exposing wrongdoing.

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