An Exclusive Interview With Ravin Mirchandani, Chairman Ador Digatron

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EMobility+ got an exclusive chance to interview Mr. Ravin Mirchandani, Chairman – Ador Digatron and learned about the present EV charging environment in the country. He gave us details about Ador’s made in India Quench EV chargers and their unique Energizing India Podcast. He also spoke about where Ador wants their business to be in the next 5 years.

1. What is your view about the present EV charging environment in India? 

There has been a sea change in every aspect of EV charging in India. Within 2 years from April 2020, we have seen targeted government incentives to facilitate a massive roll-out of charging infrastructure, clarity on charging protocols that India will adopt, a breathtaking rollout of new charging stations by both CPOs and PSUs and significant investment by VC, PE, and angel investment in the charging infrastructure sector. 

We entered the lockdowns of 2020 with a myriad of charging protocols and increasingly it is becoming evident that CCS2 will be the mainstay of 4 wheel charging in India. Several companies now manufacture or assemble fast chargers in India and there continues to be a large amount of import being done from China as well, both in CKD. SKD formats and completely built-up units. The market will evolve towards 80% AC slow charge (home, office and destination charging) and 20% DC fast charge (express & highway charging).

What makes this sector exciting today is the difference that start-ups are making – for example, Numocity with its customer management software, Exponent with both its unique battery management system software as well as completely path-breaking rapid fast charring for 4 wheelers, EV Box for high-quality resilient AC charging in India, ChargeZone, Sunfules, Relux, Zeon and ChargeGrid in the Charge Points Operations segment. They are the ones truly moving our sector forward, bringing not just new technology, but truly changing the face of India.

2-wheeler charging will likely see some interesting consolidation with a unique Indian leadership on fast charging evolving between Ather and Ola. Also, unlike in other parts of the world, battery swap will continue to have a use case in India and consequently, there will be a large investment in battery swap infrastructure for 2 and 3 wheelers in the next 2 years. 

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It’s a good time to be a part of the changes happening for all types of mobility in India.

2.  Your Quench EV charger is Made in India, for the World. We would like to know more about these chargers and their specialties.

We spent 2 years engaging major global players to try to license their technology to make in India. The discussions got nowhere, and, in many ways, these companies did us a favor. When the great lockdowns of 2020 were put in place, we decided to set up 3 teams to make India’s first 100% Atmanirbhar fast charger. We put together a street furniture design team, a DC converter and controller software team and a power electronics team, all of whom worked concurrently to create our first proto unit – the Quench within 4 months. From there, we moved within 5 months to launch production on 26 January 2021. We decided early on that we will build a charger that is born global, targeted at the European and US markets in addition to India. So naturally, we designed for CCS2 and CHAdeMO with an AC fast charge 22KW capability. The mainstay of the chargers is a 2-gun CCS2 unit. Our chargers today are 60KW and 120KW, both ARAI approved. In 2022 we will also launch our 150KW, 180KW and 240KW ranges. The Quench range has been built for challenging Indian road conditions and resilience is the keystone of every design element. Quench is therefore perfectly suited for incredibly difficult environments such as Australia, South Africa and the Mahgreb countries.

The Ador Digatron charger is called the Quench and the brand now has its own identity with its website and balance sheet. By late 2022 we will also be exporting CKD kits to our manufacturing plants in the EU and USA – which will mark the first time in the automotive industry where Indian technology has been exported in CKD format for assembly elsewhere, something that we can all be proud about.

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3. How do you see 2022 playing a key role in addressing the obstacles in India’s EV journey?

As part of our Energizing India podcast, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with major opinion leaders and decision-makers in the EV sector in India. There is a consensus amongst industry leaders that 2022 is the year we address a crucial domino to unblock growth in this sector – which is financing. Startups need a major push this year to fund their plans with rocket fuel, PSU plans to roll out infrastructure requires allocation of budgets and there needs to be a concerted effort to educate the banking sector so that loans and leasing for new EV vehicle acquisitions can be funded as part of a regularized funding process.

The 2-wheeler and 3-wheeler sectors have seen an incredible amount of product launches. However, if you want to buy an electric car or bus today – there are precious few choices. The chicken and egg story on which comes first infrastructure or vehicles is nonsense today – as the capability charge exists and is growing – it is now time for the industry to make the bold moves to clean the air in our cities and launch new models that have a hidden pent-up demand.

We believe that the present cycle of new CAPEX for city driving 4 wheelers is likely the last that will be a natural ICE decision. When the vehicles being procured in 2022 come up for replacement the natural choice will be an EV.

4. How did you come up with the idea of Energizing India Podcast? What is it that you are aiming for with the same?

We realized a few years ago that the EV sector is working in silos and each silo is developing at its own pace with minimal inputs from the EV ecosystem. Regulators were making decisions independent of the reality on the road. EV makers were struggling with lithium-ion battery pack supply and BMS design. Cell packing companies were making decisions independent of OEM requirements. CPOs were unclear what protocols to invest in for the future – whether DC001 will survive, whether the Chinese GBT standard will dominate India etc. The Energizing India podcast features conversations with key decision-makers and opinion leaders in the EV sector in India to create a narrative on what needs to happen to facilitate faster adoption of electric vehicles in India. We have featured CEOs of major OEMs, regulators, policymakers, India’s chief scientist responsible for technological development in the EV sector, even key media personalities as well as users and leaders from the finance industry. It’s been a fun ride with so many learnings and I am glad we leaned into the unknown and created this podcast. Energizing India has an amazing production and research team now that puts out a world-class podcast every month with a listener base that keeps growing.

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5. Where is Ador Digatron looking to take the business in the next 5 years?

We clearly want to be recognized as the company that developed resilient world-class charging technology for EVs in India that took this to the world and has been accepted as one of the key players in the charging infrastructure sector, manufacturing our chargers in India, the EU, and the USA. We are very excited about the future of our sector and our own place in our sector.

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