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Hero-backed start up wants to clone Tesla billing model in India

New Delhi: Ather Energy, promoted by Indias largest two-wheeler company Hero MotoCorp Ltd, plans to replicate Tesla Inc.s billing infrastructure business model in India.

The Bengaluru-based electric scooter manufacturer is preparing a pattern to install charging stations at malls, restaurants, theaters, offices and business parks, and have at least some of them ready before its so-called smart electric scooter S340 hits the road in 2018.

New Delhi: Ather Energy, marketed by Indias largest two-wheeler company Hero MotoCorp Ltd, plans to replicate Tesla Inc.s billing infrastructure business model in India.

The Bengaluru-based electric scooter manufacturer is preparing a pattern to install charging stations at malls, restaurants, theaters, offices and business parks, and have at least some of them ready before its so-called smart electric scooter S340 hits the road in 2018.

Pawan Munjal-marketed Hero MotoCorp picked up a 26-30% position in Ather Energy through a Rs205-crore strategic investment in October 2016.

Ather Energys strategy hinges on changes being effected to the Electricity Act, 2003. Under the Act, a person or a private association cannot sell electricity unless one obtains a discom licence to distribute power from the respective state electricity regulatory commission.

Say we’re to set up a billing station at a cafe, below the present rules we cannot install a meter in our name as an EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) company. And even if the cafe installs its own meter, it cannot resell electricity.

This past year, according to a person directly involved with the matter, Ather wrote to the Prime Ministers Office (PMO) voicing this concern. The PMO, subsequently, moved the request to the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP)the government body for a great many start up-associated policieswhich in turn connected it to officials at the section of heavy industry. This person said the secretary in the section of heavy business has written to the ministry of power to take up the problem, and Ather has been promised that the matter is being looked into and a policy change may be notified.

If allowed to sell electricity through its own billing stations, Ather will open the infrastructure to be used by other electric vehicle makers. Tesla, the worlds most aggressive electric vehicle business, has constructed over 5,400 superchargers with the goal of empowering long distance traveling for more than 200,000 Tesla owners around the world.

In parallel, it built a network of more than 9,000 destination billing connectors that duplicate the convenience of home billing by supplying hotels, resorts, and restaurants with Tesla wall connectors. In 2017, it plans to double the amount of superchargers. E-mails to spokespersons for the PMO, section of heavy industry, DIPP and also the power ministry seeking comments stayed unanswered as of press time.

Specialists say regulatory clarity is needed to bring investments to the sector. There’s a need for clarity on the regulatory facet of sale of electricity by third parties to EVs (electric vehicles) which is not permitted under the Electricity Act, said Reji Kumar Pillai, president and chief executive of India Smart Grid Forum, a public-private venture of the power ministry. Some utilities and regulators have taken a perspective that charging EVs from a commercial link possibly considered as a service. In order to bring substantial investments for setting up a chain of charging stations, regulatory clarity is required.

If electricity is generated outside the electricity grid and used for charging EVs, the Action doesnt prevent it, included Pillai.

About the author

Yagvendra Singh Kumpawat

Yagvendra Singh kumpawat is the Head/Chief Digital Officer at Indira IVF Group with extensive 7 Years experience in Digital Marketing, Startup Consulting and has worked for global MNCs as well as startups.

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