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Podcast 18: A Look at Quench's DC Charger Manufacturing in India with Ravin

Following is the transcript of TCIN Podcast 18 recorded with Ravin Mirchandani, Chairman – Ador Digatron hosted by Nikhil and Priyans(ExpWithEVs). You can listen to the podcast on Youtube or Spotify by clicking the links.


*If you intend to use any part of this as source for anything, please refer to recording itself. There might be some error in transcript although we have tried our best to make it word to word.


Nikhil

Hello everyone. Welcome to another Tesla Club India podcast. I'm Nikhil Chaudhary. And with me. I have Priyans as usual, Experiences With EVs. And today we have a very special guest. Today Ravin from Ador Digatron will be joining us. Priyans, why don't you introduce?


Priyans

Sure. Thank you, Nikhil. Welcome Ravin, to the podcast. I will just quickly brief about Ravin. Ravin has been the head at Quench Charges for around two and a half years and he's been working at Ador Powertron for close to a decade now. His association with Ador goes back to 2004 when Ador was primarily into the welding business. Prior to that, Ravin has worked across multiple geographies like Singapore, Australia, Indonesia and France. So Ravin, welcome to the show and please tell us a bit more about yourself.


Ravin

Thanks. G'day Priyans, thank you so very much for having me on your podcast. It's a pleasure to be here. As you mentioned, I am part of the Quench team in India. Quench is the only DC fast charger product line that has been designed and made in India, but also made for the world. We have this product line that has been available for the last two years, and I've very excited about the future capability for us globally.


Priyans

We are very excited to see Indian companies or charges being manufactured in India. So, Ravin, why don't you tell us how Quench chargers came into being? I understand that it was a pandemic effort, so please tell our listeners about that.


Ravin

That's a good question, and thank you very much for asking that. Priyans. In fact, as a company, Ador Digatron has been focusing on the design and manufacture of equipment for manufacture of batteries. So from the late 1980s, we were supplying any factory or company that was making batteries. For example, Exide or Amaraja in India. Or if you were to look at many of the companies in Southeast Asia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, any company making batteries had equipment from us to form the battery, take the various chemistries, whether it was lead and acid, nickel and cadmium, lithium-ion, and make a box that stores energy that you could use for different applications. So we understood battery manufacturing, battery charging, battery testing, battery design in a very deep manner over the last 40 years. So manufacturing or designing a fast charger, the big leap for us wasn't really charging as much as it was making and designing an equipment that's idiot proof to be performing as street furniture in any condition, whether it's monsoon or heatwave or a dust storm or even a snowstorm in different parts of the world. So on the 24 March 2020, when we were all locked down, we all came together as a company and decided that we have nothing to do for the next three months. And so let's put in this dream project. We'd been trying for two years to get Australian and European companies to work with us to be their licensee for Asia. And they had all wasted our time for two years, really not taking us seriously. And so on the 24 March, 1 of the team members, in fact, it was our managing director said, if the Australians and the Europeans are worried that we can make our own charger quickly, then why don't we have the same confidence in ourselves and design one? Just design India's first DC fast charger. So we broke up into three teams. A street furniture team, an embedded systems power electronics team and a software team to design the controller for this charger. And decided to meet in 90 days to put it all together to see if, in fact, we have a product that has legs that, in fact, is interesting for us to commercialize. And when we came together in 90 days. We were so surprised by what we had eventually designed. And we were so energized by it, we decided it to. Put the money down to commercialize this product, get the testing, and make it born global from the get go. Which means not just Arai, but also CE and eventually UL approvals for the product. So today there are a few hundred now in 2023, a few hundred already installed by various charge point operators in India, but also ChargePoint operators who use our products in Norway, Sweden, Italy, Thailand and even in Australia.


Priyans

Wow, that's really inspiring because in the software world we have sprints wherein software teams get together and attack at a problem. But it is really refreshing to see that something like this can be done in hardware too. So congratulations to your team on this. For the benefit of our listeners, can you also tell us how big is the team at Quench Chargers, roughly?


Ravin

So, nice question. When we started, we were 45 people in ador digitron in the battery manufacturing business. We hived off five to the Quench business in late 2020 when we decided to be serious about this. And today the Quench team itself is 45 people. So essentially, we doubled our business in the three years and doubled our people also at the same time.




Priyans

Wow. So it is possible to be nimble and then move fast. Great.


Ravin

I would say I'd add one more thing to that, and that is an old adage, an old Greek adage that says fortune favors the brave. And when you know intrinsically that your product is good, all of your testing and analytics has shown that your product is resilient, then the only thing remaining to commercialize is the courage to do so and to go all the way. If you're going to fail, fail big, don't fail small. And so it's not just nimble, but it's also willing to fail big.


Priyans

Yeah, definitely. And it takes a lot of guts to take that next bold step. Correct.


Nikhil

This seems like a very exciting journey. Ravin so how many CPOs are you supplying in India and in abroad? In India, I know of charge zone and chargemod that are installing your chargers. Can you tell us a bit more about who your customers are?


Ravin

It okay, so that's a tricky question because we have nondisclosure agreements with all of our customers in place. I'm not allowed to disclose their names. But what I can tell you is that typically the sorts of charge point operator that loves us is someone that is nimble themselves, that has aspirations to grow very quickly, and that really focuses on the resilience of their network, not so much on the cheapest price. Large charge point operators tend to go for l one the cheapest price, and China always wins. But typically they will find out much later that they bought perhaps not the most resilient equipment. And the problem with the charger is that if it's not resilient, you're buying a very expensive godrej cupboard because it's going to be a piece of steel sitting on a highway that's not serving any purpose, gathering rust. So the companies that work with us are companies that focus on quality, resilience and brand and believe in our brand promise and hold us responsible to our brand promise, which is to have you back in service in the least amount of times, if possible, within the day itself. So whether you look at our customers in Sweden or in Australia or in Thailand or in India, they are charge point operators who put in 20 and then very quickly put in another 50 and then have grown to 100 within a span of six to seven months. And they do it nimbly quietly, quickly, in a manner that gains customer loyalty very quickly, versus the other extreme, where people say they're going to put in a thousand charges this year and then you don't see much movement.


Priyans

Okay.. Correct. So I understand that you are under nondisclosure, but your charger design stands out pretty well among the different charges available in the market. Let's say ABB, delta and exicom. So it is easy to figure out which companies are your chargers. But does it also mean that you also supply like white label products so that your iconic design is not seen and then the charger CPO can decide whatever branding they want to put on it?


Ravin

Okay, so it's a good question. Again, Priyans and I really like the direction you're going with this. I want to differentiate white label and customization. White label is quite often when a customer comes to you as a design. Apple goes to Foxconn and says here's my design, I need you to build a print. Right? And then you've got thousands of machines making equipment that are building to someone else's design. So do we do that? No, we don't do that. However, we do extreme customization. And what do I mean by that? If you're a CPO that is willing to give us a minimum order, a sizable amount, somewhere between 100 to 1000 based on the level of customization. 100 units to 1000 units. Confirmed. We will design for you as a CPO a unique look for a Quench charger. It'll still be a quench charger. It'll be the quench brand on it, but it'll be a unique look that is unique and exclusive only for that CPO. And you would have seen that we've done that for Charge Zone. Charge Zone originally started with our classic look, but then they grew quickly and bet big and placed a large order on us. And we designed a unique look for Charge Zone, which I think is cute and sexy at the same time and inspires a lot of confidence and is also very iconic in that people will very quickly see that as a Charge Zone quench charger. Why do we do that? Because when we look at China, China is very good at cookie cutters. They're good at making 1000 pieces a day when India would make 1000 pieces a year. And so they have great cost efficiencies for doing that. But China is not really good at customization. It's not within their core skill sets. And it's also very expensive for them to do. Europe is great at customization and very good at engineering, but they are expensive and take too long. So our unique selling proposition is how do we afford you a European quality product but at a price point between Europe and China? And therefore do we white label? No. But do we customize in a way that is exciting for our customers given their capability to order large quantities? Yes, absolutely. But it'll still be Quench product, not a white label.




Priyans

Understood. And that makes a lot of business sense too, because if you have a fixed amount of orders that are coming in, then you do not mind tweaking the design a bit or tweaking the software a bit as needed. That's really right. Yeah, correct. So Quench has been operational for around three years, right? Two to three. And what kind of demand are you seeing over the years? I assume that the first year, you must have gotten the design right and you have started acquiring customers. But over the three years, how exciting was last year and the year before that? Can you tell us the difference in the scope in the CPOs that are approaching you with the problems?


Ravin

The first year is always like your first girlfriend or your first boyfriend in universities, and it is full of excitement and you never forget it. And so very little will compare to that excitement of designing a product and launching it and secretly hiding behind a tree to see the customer's first experience with it, and seeing the smile on their face and the wonder in their eyes that it worked in the first connection. I mean, nothing really nothing compares to that. Yes, absolutely. Three years now. This is in fact the third year we are starting, because the first year was really about prototyping and getting to launch. So `21 was our first year. `22 was our second year. So `21 was the year where we thought we would make an amount of products, and Charge Zone came to us and said, can you do three times that? And so they challenged us to grow faster than we anticipated. And I always thank Karthikeya for that. He was the one that really forced us to be bold and brave in our own decision making. The second year, we opened markets not just in India, but also in Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia. And we opened interesting new charge point operators in parts of India who have the same worldview as us, which is focused on quality and resilience. And so the year has been incredibly exciting. Naturally, being business folk, we will always overestimate what we can achieve. And so I think in 2022, it was softer than we anticipated, Priyans. We thought we would grow much faster. But when you look back at EV adoption globally in the markets that we participate in, and the demand that we were able to generate and the market share that we got, I think our team can rest quite happily knowing that we actually achieved a very sustainable level of growth. The other thing I want to add here, Priyans, is we've interviewed a lot of people in this business because we have a growing fast team. And one of the repeated themes that keeps coming back from global leaders that we have interviewed, whether they worked in America, Australia, Europe, in a charging manufacturing company, was they have never seen a charger manufacturer that's made a profit. Everyone's trying to grow at a loss, and we're quite proud that we broke even on the first year and were profitable in the second year. So I guess to answer your question, are we happy? Yes, obviously we are. Could we have done better? Yes, absolutely. We could have done a lot better than we did.

Priyans

Wow. Profitable business is an amazing business. And yeah, I mean, hats off to you guys. Nikil, please jump in.


Nikhil

This seems very exciting to hear all this about. So, Ravin, you mentioned some of the foreign market where your chargers are being installed. If I am right, all your charges are, as of now, are being manufactured in India. Right?


Ravin

That yes, they are at the moment manufactured 100% in India. But at the end of this year, we will be assembling kits in the US. Because in the US, you need 55% local content to qualify for NEVI, which is the Biden's plan for electrification of American highways. Nevi stands for new Electrical Vehicle Initiative. And you need 55% local content. And for the chargers are in the high scale 120, 180, 240, 350 kW charges. They're not the smaller ones. So, yes, by the end of this year, we are in Train. The factory has been identified. The team is being trained. Part of the team has already been in India from America. So we will be assembling. And I think it'll be the first time in Indian automotive history, I think that kits that are SKD and CKD will be leaving India for an automotive product to be assembled somewhere else rather than the other way around where we are importing kits. And a lot of that is happening with EVs EV charges. Even today, kits are coming from China and being imported here. But here it's the other way around, which we are certainly very proud about. We do have plans for also a similar mechanism in other geographies. We've looked at many geographies, we've looked at Europe, we've looked at others and they will be put in place at the right time.




Nikhil

This is exciting to see that our products will be sent outside and manufactured, assembled there. So how would you compare Indian market to the foreign market where your charges are currently being installed?


Ravin

How do I answer that question? There is a thousand ways to do this. Okay. India. If I were to put it in a headline, I'd say India is incredibly price conscious and Europe is incredibly conservative and quality conscious. So that Europe, Middle East, America, Australia, the five eye countries, as well as Western Europe, they tend to take a long time for you to be able to gain their trust. They need to do a lot of testing. They have a lot of specifications, and they want to know that the charger will have an uptime of 99% or more and for you to take on a lot of the legal risk if the charger is not working. But they will reward you handsomely in the event you're able to deliver a product that is quality, that is resilient, that looks good, and that doesn't fail, and that you can repair very quickly if it fails. Handsomely. India, on the other hand, outside of our core customer base, as I said, who are very, very focused on resilience and quality. When you talk to the larger companies in India, there's just one refrain which is, I can get it at half your price from China. And so if you want my business, you need to match that. And so I think there's a maturity cycle that needs to come in Indian acquisitions. And you'll find over time, certain companies, particularly the Nimbles and the new companies that have come in that are not part of the aligned large family houses, who will grow quickly, you will find that their networks are resilient and customers prefer to use them. And perhaps some of the other networks will be a little bit more instable. And so we have to go through that learning cycle for India to be a little bit more focused on quality. Maybe just because we have the sheer volume, Nikhil and Priyans, there'll be millions of charges in India. Maybe just because they share volume, we'll have the scale for addressing range anxiety, even with poor quality charge boxes on the road, because if one fails, you'll be able to drive a short distance to another. But that's to me, the highlight difference between the Indian market and the global market. So, one's, quality, secondly, the difference with India and the world, or the similarity maybe, is that India is really chasing the same spike in demand in EVs that you saw in Norway, Sweden and Denmark and Germany in the last four years. So if you were to track the registrations of EVs in these countries, the Nordic countries in Europe, you'd see that the first three years was a gentle growth. And then there was almost a rocket ship in the fourth, fifth and 6th year, where it grew exponentially to almost 10 x 20 x 50 x of the first three years. And India has started that rocket ship right now. You saw the it's pretty much the same if you were to plot it. And so India is in fact ahead. When you compare India to countries such as our neighbors in Southeast Asia, whether it's Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and even ahead of Australia, New Zealand in terms of EV adoption, and therefore there'll be a lot of learnings here that we will be able to translate to those countries, because we're just moving really fast. China was the first, Europe was the second, and India and America are the third real rocket ships on the EV journey. And that's really brilliant to see. I think we're going to leapfrog a generation of technology. And eventually, because of the learnings we will have in India, both for OEMs of cars as well as people such as us who are making chargers, there'd be a lot of very amazing, interesting learnings that we will be able to translate to the geographies that will follow in three or four years.



Nikhil

This is great to hear. And talking about quality, you mentioned it, that Europe is very conscious about it. What can you tell us about localization of the components that are used in Quench charger and what parts you are having trouble localizing?


Ravin

Okay, so again, a very loaded question because everybody in India claims everything is made in India. So the truth is, some of the things are just not made in India. So our charging cables and charging guns come from overseas, right? So if you're a European customer, we have European guns, and there's a German and a Swiss manufacturer that makes very quality European guns, and we use theirs. If you're a price conscious Indian customer, then we have our own white label guns that are imported either from China or Taiwan, and those are the ones that we put on our charger. So guns are just not made in India, right. The charging guns. And you've got to be careful because you could have an underrated gun in a duty cycle that's very frequent. And you might have guns melting, for example, just because the cable is getting so hot. So in these locations, you can't use a 200 amp cable. Maybe you need a 300 amp or 250 amp or 350 amp cable. For example. Most of the balance of the charger, we buy locally. So whether it's switch gear, power sources, our converter options are either ours, we have an SiC based converter, which is bi directional, and 50 kw, that's our own. But it's not as cheap as a Chinese converter, but it's much cheaper than a European converter. So for Europe, we have European converters. For India, we either have ours or we have Chinese based on the customer sensitivity to price. And then for exports to Southeast Asia, quite often, it's in fact our own Indian made, Indian designed SiC converter because it fits in a wonderful price point between China and Europe and makes our charger, puts us in a sweet spot that we're quite happy with. Does that answer your question?


Nikhil

Yeah. So Quench seems to be very flexible in what parts you can use and from depending on the customers need and the geography.


Ravin

You have to be that way partly because the funding for EV stations in parts of the world needs a strong amount of local content. So you have to be able to design a product that can swap different kinds of components for different geographies. Secondly, when you are in geographies where there is a high price sensitivity, then you have to be able to offer a similar quality product, but at a lower price point. So there might be some diminishing in customer experience. For example, a European charger gun cable is half the weight of a Taiwanese or a Chinese gun cable. So there is some kind of diminishing in the customer experience, but at least the charging happens. It happens safe, and for the CPO it happens at a price point that they are more comfortable paying. So yes, our design is meant to be agile and flexible and our endeavor is to make sure that the quality and resilience is not compromised. But the customer experience in some cases might be.




Priyans

No, and that totally makes sense because we are here to serve the customer price point. We should be able to deliver that. I just wanted to understand what are the advantages that you've seen if you are keeping things local? I mean, is serviceability a great factor? What kind of serviceability does it need? And is localization helping in that direction or not? In terms of parts availability and service of media?


Ravin

So localization doesn't help price, not at the moment, because in India we don't have the scale for that. And China will always benefit over India on all sorts of electronics or electrical components until some of the initiatives of make in India prove their promise, so to speak, in three or four years. So localization's benefit come in availability and having to hold less stock, because if your supplier is local, then hopefully you can estimate the demand to them and they can hold a part of the stock, so you manage your cash better. Availability is faster because you don't have to put them on DHL and send them here, clear customs and things like that, because they are making them locally. So, yes, from a perspective of serviceability, localization is definitely an advantage, but not so much from a price point at this moment in time. The second part of your question was what are the quality issues that you tend to face on the road? It depends on the geography, guys. So let's think from the perspective of India. In the remote parts of India, electricity can be fickle, and sometimes the quality of electricity can be hostile. So we've had, for example, chargers fried by extreme spikes in voltage from the grid. And so we've had to redesign, because even the spike busters that we had were proved inadequate for the sorts of spikes that you got from the grid. Sometimes your design is geared around power that's stable, and if it's not going off every 30 seconds and coming back, and charger is not designed for that. So in certain parts of India that was happening, you'd have the grid power lost for two minutes, it will come back, the charger will go through the whole cycle of rebooting, and then the grid power goes off again. And that can be incredibly frustrating, both for the customer waiting, also for the CPO, who's not getting enough data from the charger, and then also for us, because the Charger wasn't designed for so many start stops as can be happening in certain remote parts. So for that, we added a ups, for example. So the customer is always communicated to by the Charger, even if there's no power. The CPO, as well as our own network operations center that monitors the health of every charger, is able to communicate with the charger. So we know what's going on, and we can do some overriding if you're experiencing situations. Then the Indian monsoon is very unique. Nothing in the world compares to this, even though it looks like very little rain when you go through it. For example, on the west coast, Kerala Goa, if you have a west facing charger without an adequate canopy, you could have twelve to 14 hours of a deluge of rain at 45 degrees that's coming on the screen. And even though the screen is rated IP 54, that kind of deluge is above the tolerance of IP 54. You're in IP 65 territory now, and so we've had to relook at screens and make them IP 65, even though the rest of the charges IP 54 for these kind of conditions. Because you can't always hope that the CPO will have a canopy that's adequate for every geography or every location, understanding that they're west facing on a coastal road, for example. So there have been some unique situations like that. We haven't had the sort of European experience in Europe. You have other experiences with charging guns left on the parking floor and cars driving over them and damaging them. Or in Scotland, in northern England, you've had charger cables being cut off and harvested for copper, for example. Copper? Yeah, we haven't had those kinds of situations. We haven't had vandalism, we haven't had drunken disorderly behavior, which are your doors being kicked in and things like that. You get that in parts of Europe, I guess, that'll happen as the population increases and people figure out what these things are. But at the moment, we haven't had the sorts of situations that we've experienced in Europe we haven't experienced in India. It's been more about instability of power or very unique weather phenomenon that impact the charges. One interesting thing I'd like to add here, Nikhil and Priyans because we are a young company trying to attack the young market and offer customization. Eventually, the customers that come to us come with very stringent demand. So, We had one customer that wanted to install our chargers in the far north of Scandinavia where temperatures go to -55 and in winter and there was no component supplier to us that would guarantee anything will work beyond -49 so we had to do our own test. So we created a cold box, we used liquid nitrogen, we had the charger in there for 35 days where the charger was on but not charging. And then we did a shock charge a cold start, so to speak. Where whilst the charger was on at -55 for 35 days we had a car connected and then see if it could charge and we're happy to have passed that test with a third party witness. And then we had another customer that wanted to install it in the desert where it's plus 55. And again, no component manufacturer guarantees above 50 degrees or 51 degrees. Because they worried about what will happen. And so we in our factory furnace. Recreated that condition. We went up to 65 degrees for 40 days, then we put dust into the filters so that we recreated a dust storm sort of condition with degraded thermal management within the charger and then shock charged it again or hot started it and quite happy to see that it worked. So, ah we have charges working in these very hostile conditions and so in India fortunately gives us a case study in some of the most difficult conditions on the planet and so therefore we often use the tagline quench charges are inspired by the most difficult places on the planet and designed for them.




Priyans

That's that's I mean, I wonder if any of the other Indian companies who are buying charges from, let's say, a Chinese vendor or a European vendor, are testing these out in India locally. So that is really great on Quench's part. Earlier you mentioned that you are very flexible by nature. The charges are very flexible for Quench. So can you tell us that? Is it possible? Because now the number of electric cars on the are increasing. People want to have higher charging speeds because people have the money to buy, like, say, a Kia EV6 or an Ioniq 5. So these people will definitely not want a 60 kilowatt charger. They'll want a 120 kilowatt charger. So is it possible for are the CPOs demanding that the charges that are being supplied to them are upgradable by nature by just replacing some hardware or by doing a software update? How does that work and is it available with Quench or not?


Ravin

It. So today, again, very, very good questions, and I'm delighted by the insight that you guys have into this sector today. The Quench Classic product is a 60 kilowatt upgradable to 120, which means the whole product is designed for 120, but you can buy a cheaper 60 kilowatt charger. And then when your market picks up, we can come in and add a few more converters. And the product ready in half an hour to be a 120kW. And we have a different form factor from 180 till 240. And it's the same concept. You can buy a 180 and then it can become a 240 later, 240 kW. So it takes only half enough for us to turn up and add the extra converters, because everything else, all the harnessing cabling, all the power management, thermal management has been designed for the higher rating, but the core expensive componentry, which is the converter, isn't included with your original purchase. So, yes, we have designed our products to be upgradable from 60 to 120 and 180 to 240, but we have very deliberately maintained two separate form factors rather than having one all the way to 240. So I was in Middle Eastern country two weeks ago, three weeks ago, and I saw a French charger, which was the same form factor from 60 to 240 kilowatt. And the Europeans are very good at standardization, and that gives you a lot of benefits in terms of your working capital, inventory management also in your servicing, because you've got just one set of spares for everything but that 60 kilowatt charger when it's just 60. It is a very tall charger because it's been designed for 240, right? And so you're using a lot more steel and you can't put it in places in underground car parks where you've got low ceilings because it's kind of hitting the ceiling. So we decided to do it the other way and say, let's just make two form factors. One is the or three, in fact, because we have a 30 kilowatt as well. So we have a 30 kilowatt really cute baby charger that comes in a pedestrian wallbacks or a trolley for car parks. We also have a 60 to 120 form factor, and we have a 180 to 240 form factor. And this year we will launch the 360 kilowatt with dispensers, which means it's really for parking management. So you can do ten cars from one unit. So your question was, are you seeing the demand priyans? And, yes, we are. And you have to be very nimble. Our customers, our charge point operator customers very recently only wanted 30 and 60. Suddenly, they're demanding 180 and 240, and they want it in six and eight weeks. And so we've had to move fast. We've had these designs that we were playing with that we were getting excited about, that, that we were trying to get through Arai testing and accreditation, and we've had to just accelerate that whole process because the demand came like a tsunami without expectation.


Priyans

I am loving the pace at which this innovation is moving, because you have a lot of fleet operators who will want to charge their cars simultaneously. So having a 360 kilowatt charger with ten guns just allows them to quickly charge ten cars at once. Now, just a side question that I have. Now that you brought up, Arai, what is the one thing that you would like the bureaucracy in India to allow you to do so that India can move towards the faster adoption? One comment if you have towards the bureaucracy of India.


Ravin

Um, it's a good question. And you've got to always be very careful when you're advising regulatory authorities and what they should do. I'm going to sound a lot like Rahul Bajaj did in 1995 with the Bombay Club, but I don't intend to be Bombay Club protectionist. I'm going to use the same words, though, because back then, in 1995, when the Bombay Club, including Rathan Tata and Mr. Godrej and Rahul Bajaj came together to speak to PM Narasimha Rao, they said, create a level playing field because today people from overseas are getting an advantage that we don't have here. And what is that advantage in China? Land is cheaper, labor is cheaper, taxation is cheaper. The whole regulatory compliance regime is easier and therefore not expensive. You don't have to employ lawyers because you got show cause notices for things you didn't do, but now need to spend three years with very expensive processes, proving that you're innocent. Those sorts of things don't happen in China and Vietnam. And so there's a level playing field that needs to be created. Right? If we are going to be competitive to China and other countries that will come on. Mind you, Vietnam is going to be that plus one very soon, because they have just a friendlier working business environment. Then we need to be serious about make in India. And make in India isn't just about the big family companies being able to do things like make electrolyzes and electric buses. It's about the SMEs in India and the entire value chain of India being able to be competitive against China. And so if I were to be asked in all seriousness, what can be done, I'd say, understand why we don't have a level playing field and address what we can. If you can't make India an easier place to do business, clearly we can't have cheaper land, cheaper labor, cheaper taxes, then create the barriers, non tariff barriers that force our competitors who do not have the disadvantages we have. We have to be at the same level playing field as us. So if you want to participate in the NEVI program in the US, you have to have 55% local content. That's clear, correct? Right. You have to make in America in order for you to be part of the American economy. So I'm not saying don't buy Chinese, I'm not saying that at all. But, hey, if a Chinese company is going to invest in India big time and comply to Indian standards and make for India, fantastic. Welcome to the table. We'd love to do business altogether, right? But today you're having companies that have incredible advantages overseas that Indian companies don't have and are able to offer prices that Indian companies just can’t. And so create a level playing field for Indian businesses and reward people. Reward anyone. Anyone who makes in India for India.


Priyans

And it's not just the final product manufacturers, right? I mean, you have probably hundreds and thousands of vendors. So the government also has to incentivize them so that they can make much better products in India. Totally.


Ravin

Absolutely. I'd say encourage people to make in India and buy from people who make in India. Why is it that we can government tenders will still buy from stuff that's not made in India versus things made in India?


Priyans

Thank you so much for the question, for being so candid. Nikhil will ask you the next question.

Nikhil

Ravin we always kind of bash ARAI for their EV range testing of electric vehicles. They are like 30% or 40% more. Have you seen anything in Indian charging testing from Arai versus compared to the foreign testing? That there's something that you would like to add here or in foreign? There's something that would like to be added there.


Ravin

Our experience with Arai has actually been good. I think they are a global, world class organization. They could be faster at the things that they do. But the reality is, if you were to deal with UL, or if you were to deal with some of the big accreditation houses around the world, you would be met in with an even slower response than Arai. Their campus is amazing. Their equipment is amazing. Their quality of work is world class. So, no, I wouldn't say that we have experienced anything unpleasant or anything that we're unhappy with with our dealings with Arai. I wish the global agreement agencies were just as fast I wish UL and CE were just as fast as Arai in getting things done. No, I would trust an ARAI certification with my eyes closed. They're good at what they do.





Priyans

That's really encouraging to hear.


Nikhil

Ravin about your Quench chargers. Let's say there's a dual gun 60 kilowatt charger for simultaneous use. It would divide into 30 plus 30, right? Let's say if there's a car on one gun that is taking about 20 kw, let's say it's a Tiago. The other gun, it's a ZS EV, which can take more than 30. So can there be dynamic power sharing instead of a hard split of 30 plus 30?


Ravin

So it comes down to how much you want to pay. And these are all features that are available in a charger through hard switching and soft switching. They require additional equipment and additional software to make possible. Right? So first, our charger architecture has a 30 kilowatt power converter, not a 20 kilowatt. So basically, what you're talking about can be split down to a minimum of 30. So in a 120 kilowatt charger, you can get 90 on one side and 30 on the other, but you can't split within a converter. Okay, so the minimum you can allocate to a car is 30 kilowatt. Um now there's just straight split, 30 and 30. There's an option for all 60 or all 120 or whatever full power of that charger, 180, 240 to go to one gun. Or there is Dynamic charging, which is whatever the car wants. Whatever the first car wants is allocated to it. So let's say you're at a 120 kilowatt charger and the first car wanted 110. So the second gun is not available right now, but the moment the first car goes under 90, the second gun is available for 30 kw for the other car. And if the first car goes under 60, then 60 kw is available to the second car. There are many algorithms that you can use, right? One is just 50-50 split, the other is first in, first out, which is the first car gets the priority. The next one is the hungriest car gets the priority. All of these options are available, but it comes down to how much the CPO is willing to pay when they order the charger, because there's an architectural change, there's additional hardware that needs to go into multiplexing. There's also software that needs to be made available or enabled, right, for the charger. So it comes down to the CPO's appetite for capital expenditure. 1st, 2nd thing I want to highlight is we live in a regime where the way the west works is the way the world works, right? So we live under a patent regime, and you might all remember that an American company in Texas tried to patent Basmati Rice. And these sorts of things have happened with ayurveda and the things like that. So there's a few very large companies that were first in this business ten years ago who patented the equivalent of making a baby. Literally anything that has to do with Dynamic. If a car comes, two cars connect and you're able to give any priority between one car to another car in certain geographies is patented. Are these features available on our charges? Yes. But in Geographies, where they are patented, unfairly, I'd say, but they're patented because they got their ten years ahead of us. Then we can't offer them in those geographies. Now, those patents are so broad, any lawyer will tell you could challenge them because they're so broad and they won't stand up. But the truth is, if you were to challenge a patent in the UK or America or France, it's going to cost you close to 500k to a million dollars. Do you want to really challenge it or do you want to get on with life and find another way to do this? Long answer to your question, is Dynamic available? Yes. Can we make it available? Yes. Based on how much you pay, and also whether the patent in that geography applies.


Priyans

That makes total business sense. So I am assuming that Hyundai and Charge one, they installed a 180 kilowatt charger. We've seen that the split is like around 30 plus 150. So I assume that the CPO or the installer they have requested for that or is that clearly that is not a limitation from Quench?


Ravin

No, I said it's not a limitation. We have to enable algorithms. Yeah, we have to enable some algorithms as well as have some additional hardware in the charger to enable dynamics. A minimum of 30. As I said, that fits our architecture.


Priyans

We just have a couple of more questions. Nikhil?


Nikhil

Yeah. Ravin it's idea from our side. You tell us if it makes sense or not. If you have seen Tesla V3 superchargers, their architecture is there is a one cabinet that is supplying four stalls. And that cabinet is around 387 kilowatt. And if in Indian sense, let's say mass cars are going to be around 30 or 40 kilowatt mostly, and then there's a grid issue of load availability in some area. So do you think a similar architecture, but of 120 kw, supplying four guns would make sense in India?



Ravin

It's possible, but it's going to be a lot more expensive than a standalone 120. So again, it comes down to how much a charge point operator is willing to invest in a location. I would say the question you're asking will be a very pertinent 12 months from today when it becomes quite clear that you've got long lines at chargers. And so the charge one operator is going to be in the decision of making another capex purchase order. And at that point, these questions will exactly be asked do I want to pay a little bit more and have some sort of pedestals or dispensers with a 120? Or do I want to have just another two guns from a 120? Or do I in fact want to just go all the way up and plan for the future? So build it and they will come. A few companies are doing that in India very successfully and others are putting in 30kW catch up. This will be a very pertinent question in twelve months, Nikhil. And I think it'll be very interesting to see how the decisions play out.


Nikhil

Yeah, we are already seeing lines at some location and there is one charge, let's say 60 kilowatt being used by one car, which can take maximum of 30. So it's not good use of the hardware or the load sanctioned. So that's why I'm saying


Ravin

Absolutely right. Yeah. But then if I was a CPO, I'd be saying, okay, today Tata has launched the Nexon with a lower fast charge capability to keep the cost down. Right. What will Tata be doing in three years or two years? Are they going to be going, hang on a minute. Customers are now ready for longer range and for faster charging and willing to pay the premium for it? Or has their experience proven that customers actually charging at home and using it as a second car and therefore fast charging is not such a big issue? So a lot of dynamics will play onto this decision because India is going in a slightly different direction from the rest of the world on its own EV journey. And so I'd love to be on your podcast two years from now, and we look at this question all over again, all over again and see which way the country went.


Nikhil

Okay, one more question. If I'm right about your chargers, 180 or 150 kilowatt or even 120 kilowatt, they are limited to 200 amp.


Ravin

It comes down to what the customer wants to purchase. So you could have a 250 amp cable. You could have a 350 amp cable. It comes down to the spending appetite of the CPO. So we have larger amp cables on our models for Europe, in our Australia, but not so for India.


Nikhil

It's a slight issue in United States, where CPO then are installing higher voltage but lower ampere cables. But most cars are in 400 volts class, so they cannot take full advantage of the charger.


Ravin

So I'll explain to you why the United States might be in that predicament, and that is because to be on the road in the United States, you need UL. Everybody was caught off guard with how quickly this went. Not everybody has UL. Everybody's scrambling for UL. We're probably twelve months away from the right manufacturers in America being able to offer you UL products. So if they're putting lower amp cables, it might be because that's all that's available with UL right now and they want to be on the road.




Priyans

Yeah. So, last two questions. One question is that given that we have spoken earlier about the CPOs, my specific problem as a user, when I mentioned it on in the Ador Summit, that, you know, users want direct payment methods. So post that conversation like it's been around at least three to four months. Have you seen CPOs asking for integrated payment options or are we still time available? Do users like me still have to have 50 apps or not is my personal question.

Ravin

Yeah. And as we've discussed this at length, even on the Energizing India podcast, I think it'll come down to how the market moves in the end. Priyans, I don't see from the CPO's perspective, an advantage for them to conglomerate under a super app because it takes away their unique selling proposition. Um, you can do that. You can agree to that when you're either the biggest or the best and therefore are not threatened by everybody else. Or if the market comes down to three or four charge point operators who then come together to say, let's aggregate in one format, like, say, Star Alliance or one World Alliance in the airlines where they have got the full network. And they're not scared that they might cannibalize a little. It doesn't really matter in the end because you're still getting the revenue share and you're still getting points and things like that. So I think we have some time away from that. Priyans do you remember in 1997, when you travel from Bombay to Delhi, you had to carry a Delhi SIM and a Delhi phone, and then when you were from Delhi to Calcutta, you had to carry a Calcutta SIM. And it was a little bit frustrating and seemed almost archaic to do that. It seemed a little exotic. But we're going through that at the moment, and we have to enjoy that process, because whilst you have different apps, these are amazing companies. They're bringing vibrancy to the market. They are forcing the entrenched big family companies in India to move faster than they would want to. They are bringing you better quality equipment. And so the challenge for us is to enjoy the process rather than be frustrated by it, and know that we are on a journey and enjoy watching where that journey will eventuate.


Priyans

I totally get that. I mean, I have been criticizing CPOs a lot, but I also understand that it's a lot of hard work and a lot of money is being involved. Speaking of money, before any user starts blaming that “arey company ka charger nahi chalta”, this charger does not work just to give a baseline. What does a typical 30 kilowatt charger cost and a 120 kilowatt charger cost? Just a baseline so that users understand that. Okay? If a company has 100 chargers, that means that they have invested like crores of rupees. So just for that.


Ravin

I think if a company was using a 60 or a 120 kilowatt charger and they had 100 of those, I think you could anticipate that they've put in upwards of 25 crores right into this business. Okay, and what does that include? Remember, it includes chargers, it includes parking areas, it includes cables, transformers but more importantly, it includes your app. Maintenance of your app, your paywall, your banking fees, and also your network operating center. Right? And one of the games I play when I'm overseas is to hire an electric car and stop at every charge point. And even in countries like Norway or Sweden, 50% of the time, 50% factually, 50% of the time the charger is unavailable to charge you because there's a line, but because the charger is not working. Now, what's wrong with the charger? You can blame the poor charger manufacturers, but there's a lot more than that. So many things in an ecosystem need to come together. For a charger to work, the mobile network has to work, which doesn't have an option. Your app has to be updated, which doesn't happen. Imagine getting there and you need an updated app, but now you don't have network. Now the charger won't be able to recognize you. If the automotive company has updated its EMS or BMS and hasn't been very diligent in informing all the CPOs about it through CharIN, then your car will approach a charger and not be charged because the charger is going to go, hang on, I'm speaking Greek and you're speaking Italian. Something's wrong. You've been updated and I can't recognize how to handshake. Then the grid has to be working and the grid has to be stable. The charger might be in a reboot cycle. The charger might be in a software upgrade cycle. The gun might be damaged. There might be dust on the gun. They might have water contact in the gun. So when you think about this, it's not the charger is bad quality. Everybody's trying to make the best charger, no matter who right, no matter who, everyone wants to do the best for the customer. But the ecosystem is so varied and impacted by so many things that the customer experience today is not at a point where it's seamless yet. And so that anxiety, as you had said, it's actually charge anxiety, not range anxiety that you have when you approach a charger because you know you have range, but you're not sure this charger is going to be able to charge you even though it's available and working. I think all of us are early adopters today, right? Like you Priyans, like everybody's got an EV today. We're early adopters. And part of the early adopting journey is knowing that you're part of a community that is trying to change the world. And part of is the frustration of not everything not working. Always a bit like dialing up to the Internet in 1997 when you had to get a BSNL connection and you got a little router and you needed to wait for the handshake. But eventually when you got in, it was quite exhilarating because you were part of a community that was changing the world.



Priyans

Thank you. Thank you so much. Ravin Nikhil has one last question.


Nikhil

Ravin, there have been some rare cases in world and in I think couple of in India, their charger ends up supplying more current than the car has requested. It basically ends up frying the car's electronics. Why do you think this happens? And what are the safeguards that are there in a charger to stop this from happening?


Ravin

Guys, I'm going to need a technical people to answer that question. We've never experienced this situation with us, but we can maybe give you a written technical answer that you can read out.


Nikhil

It's been very fun to talk to you and know so much more about the ecosystem. Ravin, thank you for joining us.


Priyans

Yeah, thank you so much, Ravin, for coming to the podcast.


Ravin

Thank you very much, Priyans, Nikhil. It's been an absolute pleasure to be with you on the show today and a very enjoyable discussion indeed. I hope your listeners have had as much fun listening as I've had being a guest on your show. Thanks very much and good luck for your future shows.



Post Script : Answers from Quench team on some questions


Q: Can you explain us how the chargers prevent from accidentally sending more current to the cars, thereby not frying them?

- The charger sends the current demanded by the BMS of the car this is the base case scenario. To explain it further, the car's BMS sends the data to the charger controller regarding the required current, the controller then further relays this data to the power modules in the chargers. All of this communication happens in a matter of merely seconds. Now in some cases, when the controller is poorly optimized it can at times send wrong data to the power modules in the charger thus, further sending more or less current than the demanded current to the car. In Quench, our controller has been thoroughly optimized and tested with the Indian as well global cars and different test cases to ensure proper communication between the charger and the car. Controller is the brain of the charger and power modules are the heart of the charger. Controller communicates with all the components of the charger and power modules converts the incoming AC current from the grid to DC and supplies to the car.


Q: What OS you are using in your chargers?

- It’s a customized LINUX


End



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