On 23 March 2022, Exicom Power Solutions, a Gurugram-based venture, commissioned their 5000th electric vehicle (EV) charger. This milestone was achieved by installing a 200 KW charger for Tata Power at a Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) depot in the national capital. (Image above of Anant Nahata, MD and CEO of Exicom Group, on the left and an electric vehicle using one of the chargers built by Exicom on the right)
It has been a meteoric rise given that they installed their first charger for Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a public sector undertaking (PSU), in the second quarter of FY 2018. The venture is part of a larger conglomerate called the Exicom Group, a 25-year-old company also engaged in the business of delivering telecom and Li-ion battery solutions.
Exicom has built these EV chargers and installed them across 200 cities in 20 states. The majority of installations have happened at bus depots, fleet operators, public charging stations, residential communities and households. These EV chargers comprise approximately 3,600 AC Chargers and 1,400 DC fast chargers, claims Anant Nahata, MD and CEO of Exicom Group.
“We are an EV ecosystem enabler doing two things in electric mobility—charging for the whole spectrum of vehicles with a special emphasis on four-wheelers, buses and heavy-duty vehicles and lithium-ion batteries for light EVs. We started this business division in late 2017 and have achieved a significant amount in the past four years in developing an end-to-end product portfolio comprising AC and DC fast chargers. The company is an EV charging ecosystem enabler with smart solutions around the product, and software spanning across home, enterprise and public charging segments,” says Anant, speaking to The Better India.
Exicom chargers are used for charging all e-4W cars and buses in India (and even in Southeast Asia where they have over 40 chargers installed). These include EVs from MG Motors, Tata Motors, Hyundai, Audi, buses from Tata Motors, JBM, Ashok Leyland, etc. Exicom supplies chargers to key OEMs such as MG Motors and Audi while also working with major charge point operators (CPOs) such as Fortum, Statiq, ChargeZone, JioBP, Tata Power, etc, adds Anant.
All these customers serve different vertical markets. Some are charge point operators, while others are utilities installing charging infrastructure and PSUs establishing charging stations, etc. Exicom currently manufactures its chargers at a ‘state-of-the-art’ facility in Gurugram and plans to set up a new greenfield manufacturing facility in 2022-23 to multiply its manufacturing capacity by 3X to serve the fast-growing Indian market and export opportunities as well.
Starting Out and Challenges
Exicom’s journey in e-mobility began in November 2017 with the installation of the first charger for EESL. As stated earlier, Exicom has over 20 years of experience in power electronics.
“With the growing demand for EV solutions, Exicom utilised the expertise and intellectual property developed over 20 years to create an e-mobility division within the company. This laid the foundation to develop reliable and leading tech homegrown products with a mission to provide India with the freedom to go electric,” recalls Anant.
The very first challenge was skilled manpower for this technology. The requirement was new in the market and needed to be built from scratch. Thankfully, Anant believes that Exicom’s extensive experience in the telecom tower power supply domain helped in overcoming it.
“We are a technology solutions provider and work with companies who invest in setting up the stations. In the beginning, it had a lot to do with designing and developing India-specific solutions because EV charging is a combination of global and India-specific design requirements. In the beginning, trying to obtain the requisite talent and getting the government and industry to promote domestic manufacturers of EV chargers was a challenge,” says Anant.
Once government and industry began realising the benefits of the solutions, services, customisations and the India-specific features Exicom provided for chargers, the venture gradually gained a significant amount of traction.
“Today, we have a high market share in the EV charger market in India. Getting the requisite talent to make EV chargers was difficult too. It was not a technology that was readily available in India and globally too it was new. The company had to hire a few people from abroad who understood EV charging technology. We used their experience, knowledge and skillsets to develop engineers in India. In the last three years, we have developed ample talent. Also, there were a few doubts at the time about the growth of the EV industry in India. But this fear has been set aside given the growing demand for EVs. That problem is behind us,” he adds.
Building EV Chargers
The important factors to look into are the safety of the user and system and reliability for users.
Safety: “This is the utmost priority of Exicom during the design of the system. Multiple types of tests are performed on the charger to ensure user safety at the charging location,” claims Anant.
Reliability: When a user visits the station, they mustn’t face any breakdown or trouble during charging. “Endurance testing of more than 1000 hours is done on the chargers to ensure performance and reliability. IoT based communication modules are installed to generate an alarm in case of any fault generated during the charging session. This helps our support team to visit sites and provide online/offline support,” he adds.
Besides meeting the requisite standards and specifications, Exicom’s chargers also have design features such as high inbuilt surge protection, inbuilt RCD (residual current device), IP56 rating [Protected against harmful dust with protection from strong water jets] and user differentiated features such as Alexa and Google Assistance compatibility in their home chargers
“The AC Chargers range from 3.3KW to 22KW – depending on the car, this can charge the battery in 6-8 hours. The DC Chargers range from 15KW to 240KW – depending on the car, this can charge the battery in 1-1.5 hours,” says Anant.
Exicom is a privately owned and funded company and Anant says, “We believe that the day is not far when 1Mn EV 4W will be sold in India and all those vehicles will need charging points – so the future is very bright and we target a 1,000 cr business in the next 5 years from EV charging.”
After all, the EV market in India is expanding rapidly. In February 2022, the country witnessed electric passenger vehicles sales grow a significant 296% to 2,352 units, according to the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) report. Apart from soaring petrol and diesel prices, EV sales have also been affected due to increasing government sops and growing awareness in urban and rural locations over the past few months.
Also, Exicom has already begun supplying EV chargers in South East Asia. It provided DC fast charging equipment for Malaysia’s first multi-fuel filling station in Sarawak region providing gasoline, hydrogen and electricity refuelling options. The company expects to ship more than 20,000 EV chargers to its customers in FY23.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)