We wish to become one of the ‘Maruti’ in the EV space: CEO & founder, GoGreen BOV

K Giriprakash Bengaluru | Updated on April 29, 2021

Founder of Go Green BOV, Dhivik Ashok

Dhivik Ashok shares with BusinessLine the challenges that companies like his face in the industry

With the electric vehicle (EV) industry being extremely fragmented in India, start-ups find it difficult to carve out a market for their products. In an interview with BusinessLine, Dhivik Ashok, CEO and founder, GoGreen BOV, shares the challenges that companies like his face in the industry.

There are nearly 400 electric vehicle companies in India. Does that make the competition tough or is it too easy to set up start-ups in this space?

In spite of several players in the industry, market size isn’t that big to compete with others and that’s why we don’t see them as competitors but the ones with the same purpose as us. The thing which differentiates us from our competition is the fact that we have been in the market for a long time because of which we could understand what works and what doesn’t. Besides, we have an in-depth understanding of the whole cycle of EV.

How has the electric vehicle industry evolved over the years? What are the new challenges it faces?

The electric vehicle revolution in India was started around 2006-07 by the Bengaluru-based entrepreneur Anil Ananthkrishna who founded EKO Vehicles. Initially, as lithium batteries were expensive, vehicle makers started using lead-acid batteries. But these batteries had to be replaced every 9-15 months which added to the maintenance cost of the vehicle.

Due to this reason, till 2015, electric vehicles did not become popular. This can be termed as the first phase of the EV segment. Post-2015, most vehicle manufacturers started using lithium batteries which resulted in shorter charging time, faster running vehicles, and long-lasting batteries. However, there are still several companies out there who believe that a vehicle can be built merely by fixing up a motor battery and a controller. But this is not good enough.

Has Go Green BOV (battery operated vehicles) received any fresh round of funding? What is your current expansion plans?

We wish to become one of the Maruti(s) in the EV space. We plan to have a 20 per cent share in the market. We have received a fresh round from an investor. We ourselves have invested around ₹80 crore into our operations. Our current capacity allows us to manufacture 640 vehicles per month which can be scaled up to 1,200 vehicles per month.

We are also in talks with several State government in the South to set up a bigger plant. Our battery comes with a five-year warranty. The cost of operation of our vehicle is 95 per cent lower than the existing EV vehicles. We also have an app that helps customers to get their issues with their vehicle solved within a couple of hours. We have recently moved to an online service model and have kept the service centres to a minimum.

There have been cases where vehicle manufacturers have lost market share because the vehicle mileage (from each charge) that they promise does not happen. There have even been court cases filed against some of the manufacturers in this regard.

As per the norms, “any vehicle that is less than 250 watt and 25km/hour is treated as a non-number plate vehicle. Anything above it needs necessary regulatory approvals and it costs a lot of money to be approved as a number plate vehicle”. Now the biggest challenge that electric two-wheeler manufacturers face in India is the identity crisis.

The identity crisis here means there are a lot of manufacturers who were getting their vehicles approved in the lesser than 250-watt category but fit a higher power motor (obviously, without declaring it to the regulators) to get into the market, which has impacted consumer’s confidence in the product or the sector itself. The second biggest challenge that electric two-wheelers in India face is with regard to financing.

Electric vehicles have not been highlighted as a priority lending sector in the Indian context. Subsidies given by the central government is sufficient, but unless consumers do not buy vehicles on finance ( which constitutes 64 per cent of the vehicles sold ) it becomes extremely hard to get volumes.

Of late, two-wheelers have batteries that can be taken out of the vehicle and charged at home. How efficient are these batteries and is it the way forward for electric two-wheeler makers?

We as a company believe in a fixed battery system, and that has been our strength. There are many advantages that a fixed battery brings, which a swappable doesn’t, and even if it is a swappable battery, who would want to carry an 11 or 12 kg battery home every day to charge? One can probably do it for a day, or week or a month. Also, it is easier to offer a good warranty for a fixed battery system.

Published on April 29, 2021

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