This Startup Is Speeding Up the EV Sector In India Magenta Power is working to fight pollution caused by traditional vehicles, is coming up with futuristic, zero-emission mobility solutions

By Prabhjeet Bhatla

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Magenta Power/Maxson Lewis

The global automotive industry is undergoing a paradigm shift at present in trying to switch to alternative/less energy-intensive options. India, too, is investing in this electric mobility shift.

The burden of oil imports, rising pollution, and as well as international commitments to combat global climate change are among key factors motivating India's recent policies to speed up the transition to e-mobility.

The Indian automotive industry is the fifth-largest in the world and is slated to be the third-largest by 2030.

According to an independent study by CEEW Centre for Energy Finance (CEEW-CEF), the electric vehicle (EV) market in India will be a $206 billion opportunity by 2030 if India maintains steady progress to meet its ambitious 2030 target. This would require a cumulative investment of over $180 billion in vehicle production and charging infrastructure.

Another report by India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) projects that the Indian EV market will grow at a CAGR of 36 per cent by 2026. The EV battery market is also projected to grow at a CAGR of 30 per cent during the same period.

With EV technology being the talk in the automotive industry globally, we have seen massive leaps in technologies in this field in the last couple of years. However, most of these technologies have been foreign which is a point of concern as it has been assured that EVs will be future solutions to mobility.

The $118 billion Indian automotive industry suffered massive losses due to COVID-19-induced lockdowns imposed across the country last year. As the auto sales were beginning to recover by the latter half of 2020 due to the relaxation of the lockdown, the auto sector's growth might dip again due to skyrocketing fuel prices.

However, this has turned out to be a boon to India's electric vehicle (EV) market that has been on a growth trajectory since 2019. Several EV players have reported a stark increase in consumer inquiries and sales since the escalation in fuel prices.

While several factors have been driving this growth over the past few years, the most prominent of them all has been the fall in battery prices which has made EVs more affordable.

In India's EV sector, there is a growing regiment of innovative, adventurous startup Magenta Power that is working to fight pollution caused by traditional vehicles, and therefore this startup is coming up with futuristic, zero-emission mobility solutions.

This startup in the EV sector is leading the way for the Indian EV startup ecosystem as India has started its drive towards a green and reliable future and is all set to become the leading market in the EV sector by 2040.

Magenta is in the business of empowering electric mobility and making electricity clean. The business strategy lies in the principle of solving challenges in EV adoption, be it charging infrastructure, EV telematics, EV mobility.

Magenta Power managing director and co-founder Maxson Lewis, told Entrepreneur India that they have four business verticals in line with their mission. Magenta ChargeGrid is considered a pioneer EV charging. They design EV chargers, provide the software solution for it and also deploy it on their own charging platform ChargeGrid.

Magenta Power is in the business of clean energy generation with a focus on solar carports and rooftop solar Magenta Informatics creates technology solutions for clean energy and EV charging Magenta EVET (electric vehicle enables transport) is in the business of deploying electric vehicles for people and cargo transport. In each of these four business, they have been developing innovative solutions "Made in India, Made for India.'

Lewis says, "EV is a fledgling industry in India with a long way ahead. EV adoption in the regularized formats (not including the electric rickshaws) is less than 1 per cent of the overall automotive purchase numbers. But slowly and steadily the awareness and adoption is inching higher. Case in point are vehicles like the Tata Nexon which are defining the trends in electric four-wheelers. There are similar and understated successes in e3Wheelers and e2Wheelers. However, the 6 per cent rule of new technology adoption is what we should be looking forward to. Thereafter it is just a matter of time before electric mobility becomes the default."

The EV startup founder believes that the pandemic other than a humanitarian disaster has sucked the wind out of the sails on the automotive industry and EV is not isolated from the implications. EV by itself is a sub-function of the auto industry. However, as the economy wades out of the downturn, it is heartening to see EV leading the pack. While wave one stalled the ecosystem, wave two has set it back by at least a year in India.

He remarks, "The intention of the government is set in the right direction and that can be seen from the multiple policy announcements at the centre and state levels. While policies will need to get translated into actionable regulations and notifications, I believe the focus of the government should be on battery and EV manufacturing. Else we may lose the EV plot to China as we lost it in solar. The PLI scheme for battery manufacturing announced is a step in the right direction. What we need to see is how these policies are followed up with the action on the ground."

Magenta Power has been Seed funded by HPCL in 2018, incubated by Shell India in 2019. Its Pre-Series round in 2020 was supported by JITO and LetsVenture. Recently, the startup announced out Series A fundraise of INR 120 crore from Dr. Kiran Patel who is a philanthropist and businessman from Florida, USA.

They said to have been in discussion with investors in a build-up to their Series B round as well.

Lewis comments while stating the challenges of up-scaling EV battery manufacturing units in the country, "EV battery manufacturing is only feasible at Giga scale and hence a heavy CapEx game. This is compounded by China's blistering space in setting up Giga scale factories and in turn beating per KW per hour manufacturing cost. But the bigger challenge is the raw material securitization for EV batteries. It isl not only Lithium which is the element which many know and talk about but it is also other rare earths which are key to battery manufacturing."

He further projects that 2020 and 2021 have hit the overall industry hard, but the way out of this situation will be led by EVs. This is the silver lining for the EV industry. His projections remain sedated for 2021 till the festive season when new announcements will kick start the EV industry.

The next trigger of growth for the startup is its foray into international waters. The platform is now developing solutions that will suit the needs of EV adoption in foreign countries.

Prabhjeet Bhatla

Former Staff

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