At ETO, we have always looked at the EV ecosystem holistically
Published on : Wednesday 01-02-2023
Dr Karthik S Ponnapula, Director, ETO Motors Pvt Ltd.
What are the current offerings of ETO Motors in the market?
ETO broadly serves three specific areas. Primarily ETO Fleet is one of India’s leading electric three-wheeler fleets serving a continuously growing list of clients with businesses such as Amazon, Big Basket, FlipKart, Bluedart, and Bisleri to name a few. ETO Fleet helps automate, track, and manage business’ last mile delivery needs through the use of our eco-friendly electric three wheel vehicles.
Next is ETO Motors, our manufacturing segment, which produces our three-wheeler passenger and cargo vehicles. At ETO Motors, our product design approach has always been modular platform based, thus allowing us to spin off variants for different use cases. Aside from the passenger vehicle, the Trilux, we also offer our cargo vehicle, the Bulke. Within the Bulke, we offer three different variants – Max, Space and Eco. To better serve our partners, these different variants offer benefits such as 750 kg payload, and extended cargo box, and a more economical version that keeps costs low but still carries a 500 kg load. Our design approach gives us the flexibility to feature an accessory add-on depending on the use case, e.g., refrigerated box for dairy or pharmaceutical products movement, or tipper version for construction use case or sanitation services. Irrespective of the use case, our vehicles carry a futuristic design theme, which has not been seen traditionally in the 3W segment. We are continuously working with our R&D team to innovate and certainly aim to serve more segments in this calendar year.
At ETO, we have always looked at the EV ecosystem holistically. Integral to faster adoption of E2W/E3W is building a robust charging infrastructure. In this vertical, our EV Charger, the Thunderbox, is currently being rolled out to many locations across major metros throughout India making charging easily accessible to all the EV drivers of tomorrow.
The 3E principle sounds noble and laudable. Can you elaborate the underlying rationale? How is the response from women?
We operate under our 3E principle, which stands for Environment, Empowerment, and Employment. ETO as an organisation looks to positively impact the environment through mass adoption of EVs in the public transit and cargo segments while generating equitable employment. A wonderful example of this was one of our pilot projects at the Statue of Unity, where the government has mandated the area an EV only zone. We are currently operating an entirely women run fleet, which we are very proud of having been one of the first in the country to offer such opportunities.
The company was in the news, first for its Kevadia launch and later for the Noida Electronic City. There were announcements about a full-scale roll out during the launch. What has been the progress since?
We continuously grow as an organisation and have hit several milestones since the Kevadia launch. We recently launched our ETO passenger services in Delhi in partnership with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. We have also steadily been increasing the number of E3Ws we are putting on the road through our B2B services fleet. We see a large growth potential in that market and continue to serve the demands of our customers.
ETO Motors has also stitched up several alliances, including those for charging infrastructure. What are these?
ETO Motors has forged multiple alliances to expand on the EMaaS and ECaaS capabilities to expand on our 360 degree capabilities.
Alliance with Quantron: (Link: https://www.autocarpro.in/news-international/exclusive-quantron-joins-forces-with-eto-motors-for-multipronged-collaboration-102893)
The collaboration with Quantron is majorly on three aspects:
Supporting Quantron with the design and development of ETO E3Ws for European Markets, where Quantron will be appointed as the sole sales and service partner for Europe for all jointly developed ETO three-wheeler vehicles for ultra-last-mile operations.
Quantron will assist ETO in the development and approval of Quantron trucks, last-mile transporters and buses by the relevant authorities in India and other countries in the Indian subcontinent, making ETO the sole distributor for all Quantron vehicles and technologies in the territory.
Quantron will also provide ETO access to its existing retrofitment kits for converting internal combustion engines to electric vehicles and assist ETO in designing and developing Indian versions of those kits, with Indian pricing and Indian licensing and approvals.
Alliance with EV Dynamics: Under this alliance, ETO is jointly working with the leading EV bus maker to introduce 6M EV buses in the Indian market to revolutionise public transportation.
Partnerships with Metro Corporations across India: Under these partnerships, ETO Motors is providing last mile connectivity solutions for passengers through ETO E3Ws in multiple state metro corporations.
Partnerships on the charging initiatives: ETO is partnering with major power infra organisations such as BSES (BSES Yamuna Power Limited is a joint venture between the Government of Delhi and Reliance Infrastructure Limited, which holds a 51% majority stake in the venture.) to install thousands of ‘ETO Thunderbox’ charging solutions across the country.
These are the early days for EVs in India. What are the obstacles on this road?
As a leading EV 360-degree solution provider, our uniqueness lies in identifying the key obstacles preventing quicker adoption of EVs in India and in laying the clear path for solutions. Below is the detail:
a. Lack of efficient charging infrastructure (quantity and quality) – The availability of efficient, relevant and widespread charging options is a crucial obstacle to adoption, especially in high-volume products such as E2 and E3 wheelers. ETO’s Thunderbox charging solution, already installed in hundreds of numbers across significant cities and upcoming fast charging solutions is a definitive solution for better adoption.
b. Range Anxiety – ETO E3Ws are equipped with high-capacity batteries and efficient power trains, ensuring maximum mileage under full load conditions. This, coupled with the availability of multiple ETO Thunderbox and future fast-charging options, is the solution.
c. Financial constraints and price comparisons with ICE vehicles – Financial constraints are more pronounced, especially at the lower end of the spectrum. ETO is working with driver partners providing them with multiple financial models where the partners can own the vehicles in 3-4 years, ensuring that they are earning fixed monthly earnings equivalent to higher than their previous jobs while building a base to own Electric Vehicles in future.
The recent news about collaboration with Quantron is very interesting indeed. How soon can India expect to see Quantron buses and trucks on Indian roads?
We are very excited to be able to announce the JV between ETO and our German partner Quantron. Quantron combines e-mobility know-how with 140 years of commercial vehicle experience. Firstly, this partnership has given ETO a foray into the European market by appointing Quantron as a sales and service partner for jointly developed ETO three wheelers for ultra-last mile operations. While in India, ETO will assist and jointly develop assembly facilities for Quantron vehicles for the region.
This cooperation is mutually beneficial as it allows both companies to expand their reach and offerings with the assistance of strong partners in their respective regions. We can see this being a very long lasting and fruitful partnership as the strengths that each side brings allows for even greater possibilities. We can see in the near term, bringing each other’s products to our respective regions while assisting in production and assembly. We aim to bring top of the line products at competitive prices to the market both in Asia and Europe. Keep an eye on this as we will be announcing more exciting news in the near future!
Today manufacturing plants need to be highly efficient and automated. How does the manufacturing facility measure on this point?
ETO has a world class manufacturing facility located in Jadcherla, near Hyderabad spanning a land size of 78,000 sq.m with production facilities developed in 42,000 sq.m.
The present annual production capacity is about 15,000 E3Ws a year with the expansion scope to 100,000 E3Ws with combination of further automation, introducing multiple operations shifts and additional production lines.
The entire production facility is run on robust TQM methodologies with optimised production and quality.
What about the technology and the components? How indigenous are the vehicles and how many vendors are involved?
ETO Vehicles are ‘Made in India’ products taking the complete advantage of being eligible for all the government subsidies offered for indigenously produced products.
There are multiple world class vendors involved in producing vehicles from across India. Each vendor is selected with ‘safety’, ‘reliability’ and sustainability in mind.
Dr Karthik S Ponnapula obtained his Bachelor of Science from Emory University and MBBS medical degree from St. George’s Hospital, University of London.
As a member of the Board of Directors for ETO Motors Pvt Ltd, he is involved in the day to day affairs of the company and has a history of dynamic leadership. During his tenure on the board, he has led the transformation of ETO from a domestic automobile manufacturer into an international organisation with a diverse range of products and services and a continuously innovative pipeline of technology. He continues to lead the various internal teams to develop further connections to all corners of the globe.