Until recently, electric vehicles were only looked at through an environmental lens. However, the breakthroughs in battery-tech and manufacturing have made electric vehicles viable from an economic standpoint as well, says Dr. Akshay Singhal, Founder, Log 9 Materials.
The last-mile logistics is a booming sector in India owing to the increasing market penetration of the e-commerce, groceries and food delivery industries. The growing business comes with larger operating costs, ‘fuelled’ by rising petrol prices, while generating ever-increasing emissions. Until recently, electric vehicles were only looked at through an environmental lens. However, the breakthroughs in battery-tech and manufacturing have made electric vehicles viable from an economic standpoint as well. EVs have now been widely accepted as a sustainable solution for our mobility problems.
The transition to e-fleets (2/3-wheelers) has been slow and ridden with challenges. First comes the problem of degrading range, creating range anxiety for fleet drivers. The batteries are subjected to harsh temperature and local conditions resulting in rapid state-of-health degradation and a short life (2 – 3 years) requiring frequent and pricey replacements. The next problem is slow charging, resulting in longer durations of daily downtime. In fact for a three-wheeler, the speed of charging limits daily operations to one shift thereby requiring fleet operators to own a larger number of EVs to fulfil daily targets. Slow charging also requires an extensive charging infrastructure (and corresponding real estate) as the number of vehicles a single charger can cater each day are quite small.
Additionally, the limited power output from the current battery packs restrains vehicle acceleration and its load-carrying capacity (especially on an incline). The power supplied also falls based on state-of-charge requiring fleet operators to complete the heavier deliveries first. Doing that forces the fleet drivers to forgo route optimisation and consequently bear higher operating costs.
Batteries are a costly affair, and with the risks presented by the above problems, financing of electric vehicles is a massive challenge. Towards this end, entrepreneurs have turned towards battery swapping wherein a consumer only purchases the vehicle (without the battery) and uses battery as a fuel. However, the issue here lies in the fundamentals. Looking at the current market, a massive need exists for robust batteries with predictable battery behaviour, long battery life, fast charging, high load-carrying capacity, and ones with a lower upfront cost for higher affordability. That’s where Log9’s RAPIDX batteries come in. Log9’s batteries have a life of over 15,000 cycles, corresponding to over 15 years of usage, with already certified less than 3% degradation in the life of a typical last-mile delivery vehicle. Moreover, the battery can charge/discharge at 5-6C continuously with a peak power of 9C. High power allows quicker acceleration/deceleration and a consistent load-carrying capacity (500 kg payload for three-wheelers). Additionally, a two-wheeler battery can be fully-charged in <15 minutes and a three-wheeler in <40 minutes. The battery is quite robust and can function in temperatures from -30 to 65 ℃. Finally, Log9 will provide its batteries on a monthly subscription basis, thereby reducing the financial load on the end consumer while supporting the scaling of their businesses. And therefore, it can be positively said that a better and more efficient future awaits India’s B2B last-mile logistics.