Over the past decade or so, sustainability has become the mantra of the manufacturing sector. Various technical and innovative disruptions across the globe have led companies in the sector to look at sustainable manufacturing and a sustainable business model as viable options. Indian companies are not far behind in this contention and one such pioneer in the industry is Powergear Limited.
The humble beginnings
Founded in 1980, Powergear under able leadership of its Chairman Mr Durairaj X, is a cutting-edge company that designs, manufactures, and supplies quality products for traditional and renewable power generation. Essentially, Powergear’s core competency lies in creating customized designs and supplying medium voltage equipment, Battery Energy Storage Solutions and such product to all the OEMs. Powergear has a dedicated research and development (R&D) department that has been recognized by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR). Powergear is based out of Chennai and has exported to more than 65 countries.
In 2017, Powergear diversified into another unit called Powergear Sustainability and operates through Reep Motors (a brand in its aegis). REEP Motors is primarily focused on the electric vehicle (EV) business. Based out of Chennai, Reep Motors started off with market research initially and now manufactures EVs. REEP Motors first forayed into three wheelers. It has now developed over 12 different models. First among its product launches include a three-wheeler variant which is designed to carry a payload of 500 kgs (whereas a typical L3 variant is required to carry up to 300 kgs), while its L5 variant is designed to haul up to one tonne (whereas a typical L5 variant takes up to 640 kgs). The unique designs of these two variants are generating large order book year on year. For ex: in the year 2019, REEP secured a large order of about 3000 units solid waste disposal from its esteemed customers and till date all vehicles are running successfully.
The Next Steps: What Powergear is Doing
In line with the vision of Mr Durairaj (Chairman), Powergear is now looking at expanding its business portfolio this fiscal year. The first part of this is called the sustainability business platform, which would essentially consolidate the EV business with REEP Motors being a significant business opportunity. As part of its growth efforts in EV, a new electric coach bus has been developed with a range of 320 kms on a single charge. The second part would be the energy storage systems (ESS), where it would create battery energy storage systems (BESS) for the EV business and also build energy storage solutions for residential and commercial establishments. Powergear is in the process of executing Energy Storage projects to the tune of Rs 230 crores in India.
As the Managing Director of Powergear, Rajesh Durairaj puts it, “At Powergear we are taking sustainability to our heart. Our current products and future product offerings would be taking this into consideration.”
Rajesh adds that “we have built our first prototype bus for intra-city movements with a range of 320 km on a single charge. Our hope is to transform inter-city mobility – A key driver to emissions. With every bus ride, we intend to save approximately 8 Kgs of CO2 per user per ride.”
“Further, Thanks to our business partners and Customers, our specially designed three wheelers run over 16,000+ Chennai streets and help in moving solid waste from its source. Every day our vehicles impact more than 3.7 million residents of Chennai”
Talking about the future of Reep Motors, the Executive Director at Powergear, Dr. Srini Venu believes that the EV today is not 100% pure electric as people are using power from the grid to charge their vehicles which are essentially not clean energy. “A study says that we are controlling only 33% carbon emissions currently, but with purely renewable energy to power our EV, we can control almost 97% of carbon emissions.”
Dr. Srini says that keeping the future of renewable sources of energy in mind, Reep Motors is planning a renewable energy business and energy trading under the sustainability platform. “Our factories would become rooftop solar powered. And we are also doing pilots for battery storage systems with couple of battery chemistries and hydrogen technology.”
The Bright Clean Future
Dr Srini adds, Reep Motors will be launching their 45-seater video coach electric in another four months for intercity and tourism purposes. A test run of the bus between Bengaluru and Chennai has already been completed successfully. For the commercial heavy-duty segment, Reep motors are bringing out an easy-load four-wheeled e-loader with a payload capacity of 3.5 to 4.5 tonnes. The chassis for this variant is being built in-house, along with the battery, and is looking at a launch by early next year. As of now, Reep Motors has an order book worth over Rs 300 crores across segments.
Reep Motors is also in talks for introducing next-gen transmission technology. A compact and cost-effective solution, this technology could be a game changer in the EV business. Reep Motors is looking at the latter half of 2023 to build about 50 prototype samples for the same. They may also look into need-based hydrogen technology.
Apart from its focus in traditional Medium Voltage Power Generation equipment, Powergear looks to expand its business in Electric Vehicles, Battery Energy Storage, Energy trading and Renewable Energy development. The Board of Directors of Powergear is looking forward to creating a sustainable eco-system for its motives and is always on the lookout for partners, either equity or technology, in taking its endeavour forward.
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