The startup aims to accelerate country’s EV growth with its 30-minute chargeable portable battery packs and a full-stack technology offering — all built in-house
While many of its offerings are still under the pilot phase, the EV battery manufacturer is generating revenues by selling 2 kWh, 2.5 kWh, and 3 kWh battery packs for two- and three-wheelers
EMO Energy is building a 30 kWh NMC battery pack for heavy-duty vehicles, which would have a charging time of 30 minutes and a life of 3,000 charging cycles. The battery pack is still under testing.
There’s no denying the fact that the future of the transport industry is purely electric. However, in a bid to cherish this much-desired landscape of tomorrow, nations across the globe today need to address key issues that are marring the electric vehicle (EV) space.
Ranging from rising incidents of EVs catching fire to a snailing charging time, range anxiety among consumers, and a half-baked EV infrastructure, the issues are galore, and India is no exception.
However, a major silver lining is that an increasing number of industry players today understand that these issues need to be tackled with an iron hand for greener and cleaner days to come.
Amid the ongoing concerns, Bengaluru-based EMO Energy has emerged as one of the pioneering names in addressing the two major challenges plaguing EV adoption in the country – safety and charging efficiency.
Founded in February 2022 by EV industry veterans Sheetanshu Tyagi and Rahul Patel, EMO Energy aims to contribute to the country’s EV growth with its 30-minute chargeable portable battery packs and a full-stack technology offering — all built in-house.
At a time when the competition is on the rise in the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery manufacturing space with names like Exponent, Log9 Materials, and Cygni, among others, EMO Energy aims to create a niche for itself with its integrated tech stack for two- and three-wheeler EVs, and heavy-duty vehicles.
It is pertinent to mention that most EV batteries in the market today take several hours to fully charge. The charging time could, however, vary depending on multiple factors such as battery size, the capacity of charging points and cells, and ambient temperature, among others.
And at a time when international EV players are researching to bring this down to as low as 10 minutes, the Indian market is slowing making headways to stay abreast of its global peers with startups like EMO Energy in the race now.
Meanwhile, the growing incidents of EVs catching fires is another major concern that has to be urgently dealt with. Although the Indian government has come up with amended battery testing norms, taking cognizance of such incidents, a large number of batteries in circulation today continues to pose a major risk.
In this scenario, the Indian EV industry needs more competent players that have the potential to nib these issues in the bud before they start impacting the country’s EV goals.
EMO Energy’s Journey So Far
Tyagi and Patel met at Ola Electric where the duo handled top positions in the company’s battery manufacturing division. Tyagi, also a former Tesla employee, had been aspiring to start an EV venture but was looking for the right partner. It was during this time that he got the opportunity to share his vision with Patel, and, as luck would have it, a partnership was forged with a firm handshake.
With over 20 years of aggregate experience in the EV industry, Tyagi and Patel left their jobs at Ola Electric in November 2021, paving the way for EMO Energy. The duo dedicated all their time and effort to R&D at a research lab in Bengaluru for the initial six months.
Now, after a year since the beginning of its full-fledged operations, EMO Energy has already piloted around 100 batteries with almost 10 EV companies in the country. While its focus has been more on EV fleet operators, it also counts EV manufacturers and battery-swapping stations as its clients.
The startup claims that for almost a year now, it’s been testing its batteries in different climatic conditions, geographies, and vehicles. Currently, it runs its operations and a testing lab in Bengaluru and has a factory in Mysuru.
The cofounders of EMO Energy claim to have built all the battery components in-house, except for lithium-ion cells and semiconductors, which the company imports.
The company calls its technology platform ZEN, which has different applications, including ZEN PAC (swappable battery packs for two- and three-wheelers), ZEN Rig (battery packs for heavy-duty vehicles), ZEN Ctrl. (battery management system and connected software), and ZEN Wall (fully integrated battery inverter system for residential and light commercial use).
In fact, besides its battery capabilities, EMO Energy is also piloting connected software, which it wants to offer as an integrated offering along with its battery packs.
The software would enable the startup to provide an end-to-end solution to its clients while ensuring enhanced safety, accountability, and efficiency to fleet operators.
“Integration between software and hardware is what gives us that edge. There are battery manufacturing companies, there are battery software companies, and these entities are building fairly basic systems. When you combine those to the level that we have, it gives you amazing results in terms of battery safety, performance, and life,” said Tyagi, cofounder and CEO of EMO Energy.
Since its inception, the startup has raised $1.5 Mn in two rounds, with investors like Transition VC and Gruhas backing its latest seed round.
To fast-track its offering capabilities and scale production to at least 1,000 batteries a month, EMO Energy is looking to raise around $10 Mn in the next two to three months in a Pre-Series A round from existing and new investors.
In the first year of its operation, the startup has generated a revenue of INR 1 Cr and is aiming to make a 20X growth in the top line in FY24.
While many of its offerings are still under the pilot phase, the startup is generating revenues by selling 2-kilowatt hour (kWh), 2.5 kWh, and 3 kWh battery packs for two- and three-wheelers.
What’s In The Startup’s Tech Stack?
With safety and fast-charging as its key value proposition, EMO Energy claims that its 2 kWh Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) battery pack for two and three-wheelers provides 100% fire protection. The operating temperature of these batteries ranges between -20 degrees and 60 degrees Celsius.
The startup’s 2.5 kWh and 3 kWh battery packs have similar capabilities, provide a warranty of five years and are in compliance with the newly amended AIS 156 phase 1 and 2 testing norms.
The startup has also built a 10 kWh Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery pack for three-wheelers and light commercial vehicles. These battery packs weigh 110 kg and can operate between -10 degrees and 50 degrees Celsius.
Besides, EMO Energy is building an NMC battery pack of 30 kWh for heavy-duty vehicles, which would have a charging time of 30 minutes and a life of 3,000 charging cycles. This battery pack is still under testing, and its production is expected to start in November this year.
After all, Tyagi believes that while two- and three-wheelers are great, there is an urgent and pressing need for electrifying larger systems.
“We have got a lot of interest from different sectors like agriculture (for tractors), cold storage, and commercial vehicles. Now, the objective is to make a modular system that we can scale across everything because the vision is to get India electric as quickly as possible,” the CEO added.
Hence, to cater to different use cases and applications, EMO Energy is also testing various cell chemistries for building EV batteries. Besides Li-ion cells, the startup is working with sodium-ion cells to make batteries safer and more efficient.
It must be noted that sodium-ion cells are safer and less volatile to temperature changes compared to Li-ion cells. According to Tyagi, sodium-ion cells are slowly getting prominence in the global EV ecosystem but it is yet to hit the Indian roads. However, tests for their use cases are being currently conducted at EMO, we were told.
The startup has plans to make its inverter system ZEN Wall, currently under pilot testing with Li-ion cells, run on sodium-ion cells later.
Can EMO Sustain In The EV Race?
The incidents of EVs catching fire hint at the fact several industry players have made compromises initially in a rush to benefit from the EV adoption wave in the country.
However, with timely intervention from the government, the industry has grown more cautious. While many homegrown players today understand the need to produce EV batteries suitable to the Indian climate, the space continues to take the blame on behalf of many who import components and assemble such batteries in India.
Amid the current scheme of things, EMO Energy wants to accelerate EV vehicle adoption by providing products that are safe, efficient and in line with the country’s larger EV requirements.
Speaking with Inc42, Tyagi said that the failure rate of EMO Energy’s batteries (at the pilot stage) is still a little high, which he is hopeful of bringing down to less than 1% in the coming months.
Besides, as a propagator of fast charging, Tyagi says that the standard NMC and LFP cells in the market today are capable of 30-minute charging. However, he believes that the Indian EV ecosystem is yet to crack the code to understanding cell chemistries and mechanicals that are crucial for enhanced outputs of these batteries.
The CEO of the EV battery startup said while there is a growing market competition today, the market would consolidate into a handful of trusted players who bring more originality than just assembling battery parts.
Amid the claims of the cofounder around the startup’s unique value propositions, it remains to be seen how this new market entrant will grow to become one of the pioneers shaping the future of the country’s promising vehicle electrification space.
Meanwhile, despite the policy hurdles, India’s EV adoption is showing promising growth, particularly led by growing interest in electric two-wheelers. In May, electric two-wheeler registrations crossed the 1 Lakh mark for the first time.
In fact, in the first five months of the year, total EV registrations in India surpassed 6 Lakh, which was around 3.4 Lakh units in the corresponding period of 2022.