Within a span of just 18 months, the Bengaluru-based startup has built a network of 10,000 charging points in the city
Having collaborated with multiple public charging stations across Bengaluru, the platform functions like an Airbnb or a Swiggy in the EV charging space
Depending on the location of the charging platforms, ElectricPe charges a 5%-25% convenience fee from its users
With each passing day, India is moving closer to achieving its net zero emission goals. This stands especially true when the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is on an upward spiral in the country. For context, the EV registrations in India grew over 200% year-on-year (YoY) to 10 Lakh units in 2022, led by a spurt in two- and three-wheeler adoptions.
While Indians may be on track when it comes to switching to EVs, there is a need to create an infrastructure that is abreast of this shift. This is because a delayed growth in the infra needed to support or power EVs could mar the sentiments of users, triggering them to revert to internal combustion engines (ICEs), the infra around which is much more robust than the burgeoning EV space.
Committed to bridging this gap, Avinash Sharma and Raghav Rohila founded ElectricPe, an EV charging aggregation platform, in 2021. Within a span of just 18 months, the Bengaluru-based startup has built a network of 10,000 charging points in the city.
Charging Into The Burgeoning EV Space
While it is true that the number of EV charging stations has grown exponentially over the last one year, they have failed to match the pace of EV adoption in the country. Therefore, range anxiety continues to be common among EV users.
As per a KPMG report, India‘s charging infrastructure demands are unique, considering that the vehicle mix is dominated by two- and three-wheelers, as opposed to four-wheelers across the rest of the world. Further, many EV users have limited access to private charging, and a robust public charging infrastructure would be critical to enable widespread EV adoption across India.
Under Phase II of FAME India Scheme, the government has sanctioned 2,877 EV charging stations for 68 cities across 25 states/UTs, along with 1,576 EV charging stations for nine expressways and 16 highways.
While 1,822 of 2,877 EV charging stations received Letters of Award as of December 2022, only 83 out of 1,576 charging stations sanctioned for expressways and highways were able to see the light of the day until December last year, as per a government report.
ElectricPe’s founder and CEO Avinash Sharma believes that the government has done its bit in terms of giving incentives to set up the infrastructure around EVs, but, now, the ball is in their court to accelerate this development.
The founder said although this growth was initially slow, it has now started to pick up. “India took seven years to install about 8,000 charging stations. However, in the last 18 months, we have created an ecosystem of 10,000 charging points just on our app. My observation is that the charging infrastructure is growing rapidly on the back of an increased EV adoption,” Sharma said.
Building Airbnb Of EV Charging Points
Incorporated in June 2021, ElectricPe started its operations in April 2022. There are two aspects to ElectricPe’s business model – the operators’ side and the users’ side.
Having collaborated with public charging providers across Bengaluru, the platform functions like an Airbnb or a Swiggy in the EV charging space.
Once users download and login into the ElectricPe app, they can search, check availability, and reach the nearest EV charging stations.
To enable easy transactions, the ElectricPe app offers its user a digital wallet in which they can add money using UPI/debit card/net banking facilities and use it at charging stations as per requirement. Users can opt for a subscription plan to use the ElectricPe charging network or choose to pay per use. In fact, this is how the startup generates its revenue.
Depending on the location of the charging platforms, ElectricPe charges a convenience fee/commission from its users in the range of 5% to 25%.
Besides its app, the startup also provides charger management software (CMS) to the Charge Point Operators (CPOs) for managing their EV charging stations across multiple locations from a single application.
The software provides CPOs with real-time monitoring and optimisation capabilities, enabling the growth of their charging station business. However, the software is free of cost for the operators on its platform.
Backed by Blume Ventures and Micelio Fund, ElectricPe has so far raised $8 Mn in two funding rounds. In January, it closed a $5 Mn Pre-Series A funding round to scale operations further and deepen tech investments.
Software Revenues Not On The Cards For Now
ElectricPe’s Sharma believes that the decision to provide its software free of cost to CPOs would boost the growth of EV charging stations in the country.
To understand his point better, let’s understand how CPOs function.
To set up EV charging points or stations, operators bear a one-time cost in terms of hardware (charger) and installation. Since it’s a one-time investment, operators do not shy away from it.
However, running the charger with a CMS is a recurring expense, which may prove to be a burden for operators.
“EVs are getting adopted, but they are not in such huge numbers that every e-petrol pump owner is making tons of money. So, we give this software to CPOs free of cost… they don’t need to constantly pay every month as currently the utilisation is very less,” Sharma said, adding that the move has helped ElectricPe onboard more charging operators.
On the software side, the startup has joined hands with charging solutions providers Legrand and Teltonika. Sharma claims that the strategy has helped the charging solution providers boost their sales as CPOs do not have to pay any additional software cost. Secondly, ElectricPe is able to expand its reach, piggybacking on the growth of the charging solution providers it has partnered with.
One City At A Time
To get users on its platform, ElectricPe has tied up with various EV two-wheeler manufacturers, coworking spaces, and proptech companies such as Hero Electric, Gemopai, NoBroker, BHIVE, and JSW Group, among others.
In the next six months, ElectricPe is looking to make at least 50 more such strategic partnerships that would include tie-ups with at least 20 EV manufacturers.
Besides strengthening its collaborations, the startup is looking to expand to other cities. By the end of Q1 FY24, ElectricPe plans to launch its services in two to three more cities.
However, ElectricPe wants to expand in a phased manner – one city at a time – i.e., transit to the next city only after establishing enough foothold in one.
EV charging infrastructure is all about density, and it is better to have 100 chargers in one city than one charging point in 100 cities each, Sharma explained.
In the space, ElectricPe faces competition from the likes of BOLT, Magenta Mobility, and ElectreeFi, among others. Besides, some of its global competitors include ABB, ChargePoint, and EVgo.
Despite this, the scope of growth for the existing players remains high on the back of domestic EV adoptions in a market that is expected to grow at a CAGR of 49% between 2022 and 2030 and touch 1 Cr units of annual EV sales by 2030.