In the world of electric vehicles, a new and promising landscape is emerging – the EV repair ecosystem, a dynamic industry that holds immense potential as the number of electric vehicles on our roads continues to surge.
From battery maintenance and diagnostics to electric drivetrain repairs, the ecosystem ensures EV owners have access to reliable and high-quality repair services. Moreover, with continuous advancements in EV technology, the repair ecosystem also plays a vital role in updating and upgrading vehicles with the latest software and hardware improvements, driving the growth of the electric vehicle market and fostering consumer confidence in adopting greener transportation solutions.
To shed light on this exciting domain, here’s an insightful conversation between Shubham Mishra, the visionary founder, and CEO of E-Vega Mobility, fondly known as the EV Doctor, and Pranjal Markale, Lead Automotive Analyst at Netscribes.
Pranjal Markale: Today’s topic of discussion would be the EV repair ecosystem which is in its early stage but it is a rapidly evolving landscape as the number of electric vehicles on the roads continues to grow.
So, let me just give you a precast of this issue. Today, we are going to explore the challenges and opportunities of this ecosystem, will understand the maintenance and cost comparison against the ICE ecosystem, and learn about the concept of the second life of electric vehicles. Then we’ll also be touching on how traditional workshops can adapt to become an EV one. To uncover all the answers to these topics, we have a very special guest with us, Shubham Mishra, who is the founder and CEO of E-Vega Mobility, also known as the EV Doctor. Before jumping into the session, I would like you to please walk us through your journey.
Shubham Mishra: Thank you for the invitation and we are looking forward to helping as many EV ecosystem stakeholders as we can through this session. I’ll be mainly focusing upon the ecosystem on the repair, recycling, and repurposing side of the EVs. Also, how maintenance and operation of electric vehicles needs to be done.
Talking about our journey, we started from e-bikes, then we dive deeper into the battery tech. We found that there is a gap that needs to be filled on the battery diagnostics testing and operation site, so we started working on that. We focused upon it, we partnered with various international and national players, the result of that was EV doctor. That is a solution that will be helping EV stakeholders for getting the diagnostics done faster in a reliable manner.
And in addition to that I would like to add that we are also working on the second life of the batteries and how we can reduce the recycling rate of the lithium-ion battery so that we can gain maximum amount of energy from lithium-ion.
Pranjal Markale: Understood. Thank you for your introduction. Without wasting any time, let me jump to my first question of today’s session. Shubham as we know, for the longest time the growth of EVs was hindered by factors like range anxiety and charging infrastructure, largely.
There were many other factors, however, the repair and maintenance ecosystem was least spoken about. So, what do you think about it and how is it different to repair EV versus ICE? And given that these EV components are really expensive and their failure of repairing services is likely to fetch extra cost when compared to ICE. What are your thoughts on that?
Shubham Mishra: So, currently the market scenario is that if you consider the total cost of ownership and if that ownership cost includes the cost of components as well, then it lies around the ICE counterparts only, right?
So suppose we take the cost of batteries and the cost of motors also. Then, the total cost of operation or the total cost of owning an electric vehicle will be rounded about the ICE vehicle only. Now coming to your exact point where the difference is there, well, where we can see the difference on the servicing part and the maintenance part and how we can increase the level of servicing for you. So on the EV side, there are three major components which need to be addressed.
The first one is obviously the battery that is costing around 50% to 60% of the overall EV. The second one is the motor, and the third one is the electrical components which you can see. So, the major part of that electrical component will be controlled.
I will be touching upon three points only. Battery, motor, and electrical combo. Now that clear contrast is the mechanical components. The mechanical components get the wear and tear which they deserve in ICE vehicles. But in the case of EVs, the chances are less because the overall power train or you can say the overall top speed component is shifted on the electrical side rather than the mechanical parts. So gear and reusing and all that will be required in EVs also, but the amount will be very less.
Pranjal Markale: It is very clear now, how the maintenance or service is likely going to shift towards which components, right? Given that we are talking about the repair and service system, what do you think? How the aftermarket ecosystem of EVs is evolving. Because you see the replacement cost of the battery is too expensive. I mean, it is half the cost of the vehicle. One cannot just go and replace the battery if it is subjected to failure or its part or a pack is subjected to failure. So how is it evolving?
Shubham Mishra: I would like to give an analogy that batteries are like humans only. If you understand humans and their life, then you can understand the batteries also. Now, if you want to increase your lifespan, you have to constantly monitor your body, you have to do routine body checkups and all. For the same thing, we need some diagnostic tools. It can be any tool so that you can get the battery checks done periodically where right now in India the scenario is that every dealer and distributor is acting as a service center.
But these garages, these conventional garages, don’t have any facility to repair or to even join a component that is inside an EV. So, they understand ICE only and the way they repair an ICE vehicle. In the same way they are handling electric vehicles, which should not be the case. So, there needs to be a system where we can increase the overall awareness of the EV so that we can repair it. Second thing is we have to standardize the practices and processes while doing the repair of an EV. The third point is we can work upon the collaboration. If you understand the concept of multi-brand stores in the similar way we can have multi-brand service centers, which is evolving. Companies like radiuses, speed 4, they are working on it and they are setting up service centers across India.
So I think that is a good approach so that existing service centers can be converted into the legal address and in parallel with that, we can build new service centers which are focused upon EVs only. Adding to that, there are 20,000 plus EV dealers across India right now and all of them are focusing on the sales only. Gradually as more EVs are sold, there will be some recall, some servicing, some operation, some maintenance calls that need to be addressed. So at that point, these dealers will be converted into service centers gradually.
Pranjal Markale: You explained how service centers would collaborate and what would be the role of existing service centers to become EV-ready. I would like to go to another level – you know, there is a well-established aftermarket for ICE. There are local markets, the dealers, distributors and the sub-dealers available who sell the ICE parts. Is this kind of ecosystem developed for EVs as well or still developing and at what phase it is right now?
Shubham Mishra: For any technological adoption, there are three phases. The first one is the early adoption stage. Second one is the peak stage and the third one is the laggard stage. So, ICE vehicles are at their laggard stage for two-wheelers, three-wheelers and four-wheelers. Whereas for EVs it is still in an early adoption stage. There is no peak stage right now. It is still in its infancy stage. You can say where right now the focus is upon the sales, every new business is trying to penetrate into the EV segment.
They think that if you dive deeper into the EV segment, you can get the early adopter advantage or the first mover advantage. So, they are focusing more on the sales side, whereas there are some players like Hero Electric, Yo bike, and some other players like Okinawa, they have been selling electric two-wheelers for a decade so they have the knowledge of how the service and maintenance of electric vehicles need to be done.
So, what I would like to add is although we are at the initial stage, the quality of the components which are used inside an EV are not up to the mark. That’s why within two or three years, there will be a sudden spike in repair and maintenance of electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers. Such problems need to be addressed; not just from the OEM side, but also on the mid-stakeholder side where businesses can tap upon the opportunity of service maintenance and repair.
Pranjal Markale: Understood. So, I heard you mention about the multi-band service workshops are coming into the picture. A lot of effort is being put into setting up a proper ecosystem for EVs. So talking about skill set, how’s the skill set readiness of the mechanics workers of these workshops, and how businesses are dealing with it?
So are they arranging a special kind of training, because EVs are anyway different from ICE? Not totally, but yet they are different as a lot of electronics are involved in this. So what do you take from that?
Shubham Mishra: So, there are some institutes or you can say online courses which are focused upon EVs and they are quite involved in developing or nurturing the skills of the mechanics. I can name a few of them. Autobot is there and DIYguru is there and they are doing good stuff. They are enabling engineers to become more skilled on the EV side and these engineers will then train mechanics to be EV-ready. That is the first point. Coming to the readiness part out of 10, I think I can rate it 7 or 8 because still a lot of development needs to be done on the readiness part.
But still what OEMs are doing? They are onboarding dealers. They are partnering with dealers for the training program. So the dealers will be onboarding mechanics. OEMs organize seminars and workshops where they train the mechanics. So around 500 to 600 mechanics suppose on average OEM has. They invite these mechanics to the factory and train the mechanics. They provide some initial basics of how an EV works, what’s the principle of the components which are inside an EV battery, motor controller or whatever power electronic equipment or components are required.
So, a basic level of skills is provided, but the problems which are coming are not on the usage side but they are coming onto the quality control part of an EV. So, if the OEM is not making good products, then that is not called repair, that is called manufacturing defect, right? So, repairs are still not being addressed, but on the manufacturing defect side, there are many.
Pranjal Markale: What should the fraternity do? What is an ideal step for a fraternity to low down these manufacturing defects, and what are your thoughts on this? How can this be overcome? Because everyone wants to manufacture a quality product, but somehow somewhere they’re missing something. No one wants to deliberately manufacture defective products. So where is the loophole in this?
Shubham Mishra: So there are two loopholes where I can see easily that due to that only there are low-quality products available in the market. The first one is they don’t have any control on the engineering side. They are importing or outsourcing or collaborating with some other brand and taking that component from them without getting the basics of what product specs are there. And the second thing is the awareness of EVs. So, I’ll not blame only the manufacturer or the OEMs, I’ll also blame the customers.
So few customers don’t understand how to handle an EV. If there is partial charging, so while testing the vehicle or the battery of any EV, there is no test on the partial charging. That can be included in the QC part, but on the user side, they have to make sure that partial charging doesn’t happen. Periodic maintenance, periodic repair and even if any issue arises, then the customer should be more lenient on taking the quality components, not just focusing upon the cost factor, and simply selecting the cheaper one. These problems can be divided into two sides. The first one is on the OEM side and the second one is on the customer handling side.
Pranjal Markale: Alright. So, you just mentioned about customer handling should be more conscious while using a product like EV. But you see, India is a very price-sensitive market, you know, and most of the users at some point of time after the free service period is over, they don’t prefer to go to the showrooms.
They have local mechanics around; where they prefer to go to those workshops. So my question is, how do those workshops become EV-ready or in fact, I would say what if someone wants to get into this business, EV repair business? So, what would be the typical cost of setting up this repair workshop? Also, how a traditional service workshop can become an EV adapter?
Shubham Mishra: We can divide the cost in three parts. The first one is infra cost. You can include the space or the electricity and normal land and everything. The second thing is mechanics. We need to have skilled mechanics so that wherever battery service or component service, or motor service is required, they should be skilled enough so that such problems can be mitigated.
Third one is on the training part. So constant training is required so that skilled mechanics should know the newer problems also. So as this industry is at its nascent stage, we need to develop more skills on the potential of the problems that can arise. If these three things are taken care of then any workshop can be converted into an EV workshop.
Typically these costs are around INR 10 to 15 lakhs. So. within INR 10 to 15 lakhs at max, the normal workshop can be set up where any electric two-wheeler or three-wheeler can be tested, can be serviced, or can be repaired. But on the battery side, the opening of the battery can’t be done within such a workshop. So they have to obviously reach out to the battery pack manufacturers and all for any type of battery repair.
But in the case of motors, the BLDC motors which are available in the market, the controllers which are already there in the market, they can be easily repaired or replaced at these workshops. Also adding to that I’ll be conscious of the supply chain also.
So dealers or workshops need to make sure which type of EVs are coming to such places and depending upon that the spare parts or the accessories, or even smallest of the components should be ready. So that whenever replacement or repair is required, they can easily get up on that.
Pranjal Markale: So, can we divide this ecosystem into two parts? One would be just for the motors and the other components and the batteries would have a separate ecosystem. Can we say that? Also, if you can just tell us more about how battery replacement or repair of a battery pack module or a cell is done, and what could be the typical cost of setting up that ecosystem or maybe that service workshop?
Shubham Mishra: So, I’ll explain the journey of a battery. How a lithium battery is made and how it is treated and how the second life happens. Let us start with cells. So, cells are right now imported from China, or Taiwan. Then they are assembled and battery packs are made. Either they are made by OEMs or by battery pack manufacturers. Now some of the OEMs may make it themselves like Ather and Ola – they are making it themselves and some are directly collaborating with battery pack manufacturers and they are getting from battery pack manufacturers. Once this is done, OEM focuses on the sales and service part.
Initially, they’ll do the sales. They’ll sell N number of electric vehicles across each month and they’ll see the growth across each quarter. They’ll observe the year-over-year growth also. Now once the sales are done, dealer has to take care of the repair and aftermarket. Suppose any issue arises on the two-wheeler owner sites. So, typically these issues are like- range is reduced, water damage, or worst case battery fire or you can say the thermal runner.
Sometimes the cells are overcharged or they are imbalanced. So we have to balance them. Sometimes BMS is damaged, and sometimes the enclosure is damaged. There are various reasons why battery packs are damaged, and due to that the safety and performance are compromised. Now they will reach out to the dealer or distributor right now, although, after a few months, there will be some service centers also, some third-party service centers now reach dealer distributors at any service center. They will keep the battery with them.
They’ll simply do the basic voltage check using a multimeter and I have seen one dealer using their bare hands to check the temperature of the battery. Suppose the temperature is high, then they’ll say that this battery is bad. So they’re checking batteries like they are checking the fever of any person. So that is the case and that was the euphoric moment for us where we realized that there needs to be a solution that should be built by us so that we can help the EV businesses doing the battery checks. So, they are simply checking the voltage and then they have to figure out how we have to deal with the customer.
So, if you see the consumer complaints website, it will be filled with all the battery issues. So they’ll be fighting with the dealers, they’ll be fighting with the distributors or sub-dealers and dealers are helpless too. They don’t have anything to check. Even their OEM has not provided enough tools and or equipment or guidelines on how to handle these batteries. Even during the thermal runaway thing or any accident, everybody is blaming supply-side stakeholders. But the actual reason was batteries were not managed properly, and sufficient care was not taken for the battery.
Now coming to the typical process. These dealers or distributors, they will send their damaged or harmed batteries to the OEMs, and OEMs will send them to the battery pack manufacturer. So four to five months is the time when customers don’t have any battery and dealers can have one or two backup batteries. They can’t have like 100 backup batteries within their dealership. So in such a scenario, managing batteries becomes very difficult and which will hamper the brand value of the EV OEM also. We have to take care of whether we are handling these batteries effectively, even for a slight displacement of the logistics part.
I’ll tell you one interesting fact. If you want to transport a lithium-ion battery from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, there is no SoP, no checks are defined for the transportation of these batteries.No questions are asked about whether this is an explosive item or not, batteries come under the category of explosive goods. But within INR 100 or INR 200 you can send a lithium-ion battery from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. And, nobody will ask what’s the status of the battery. Not from your side and not from my side.
I’ll simply get it from you and I’ll simply plug it to the controller and get it ready for the initial drive. What is happening in the Nordic regions where EVs are already in the peak stage you can say. They are constantly monitoring the batteries, they are always checking the batteries whenever it is dispatched, whenever it is arrived, and they make sure that the SoC (state of charge) is below 40% or 30% while the battery is being dispatched, whereas in India, people demand that it should be ready so that I can directly plug it in.
Pranjal Markale: So I can see there is a lack of regulation, there is a lack of standardization. No guidelines are being followed at any level of the supply chain or would say in the value chain. So as an EV doctor, what are your suggestions to make this ecosystem more standardized and one who can follow proper guidelines so that together this adoption of EVs would increase, such incidents definitely hamper the growth of EVs, right?
So it actually creates a negative mindset that I should still go for an ICE vehicle because EVs already have such problems. Because if you see, the mistakes or the mishandling is from either the side customer and OEM or dealer side. So what do you think, what an ideal process guideline should be?
Shubham Mishra: If you remove the battery from any EV then it will be 70% to 80% similar to an ICE vehicle. It is also having a controller, even any ICE vehicle is having a battery also, although it is for the auxiliary purpose. But in EVs if you only consider the battery part. How we need to handle it, from the regulation part, and the government is now doing really well as they have introduced AIS156. So now the batteries are not dumb enough, they need to be checked, they have compliances. With a lot of rules and regulations, and initially they have to get compliance on the certification part also.
But once the sale is done, who will take responsibility for the battery? That is the primary question that needs to be answered, not just from the OEM side, but also from the government side. If you handle it like a toy car, then it will be dangerous. People are handling an EV like a toy car. But once it is mishandled, then that toy car will be dangerous for you.
OK, so adding to AIS156, the government initiated it, but I don’t know what was done to the policy. Started building testing houses across India, there is one in Mumbai, there is one in Delhi. Testing house is not for certification, but for the aftermarket. So that they’ll simply check any battery from any EV manufacturer and they’ll test it so that they can know whether the compliance is followed or not, whether the certified batteries, the specs of such batteries are followed or not.
So that approach was good and they were also setting up aftermarket battery testing centers. So any EV owner can go to such a place, get the battery tested, get the motor tested, get the components tested and these testing houses are to be set up by the government only.
The government will earn some money, they will get some hand over the policies or the norms and on the customer side also, they can maintain their EVs quite well.
Pranjal Markale: I hope these regulations should work and I’m hopeful that we must see a downfall to all these cases. Let’s assume we have a system and everything in place. The limitations related to EVs like thermal runaway and everything is sorted now.
Let’s now discuss the second life of the battery. You just talk about the e-rickshaws or the e-bikes, the warranties which have been claimed by the OEM are 2 to 3 years maximum. And obviously, after 2 to 3 years, let’s say the warranty gets lapsed and definitely no one is going to buy another EV. How can we get the second life of the battery? Obviously, very limited people might have witnessed these cases like after three years they have to throw the battery. What is the second life of a battery and how can we achieve that?
Shubham Mishra: Firstly, let us understand why there is a warranty of three years only, whereas for a lithium-ion cell, typically the life is 10 years. If you take any lithium-ion cell, then the life of it will be 10 years. And that is mentioned on the data sheet also. Why three years? Because there are 365 days in a year and if you take three years, that will be an average averaging out to 1000, if we can average out so and right now for NMC and LFP batteries, the cycle life is 1000 to 1500 for LFP it is 1500 to 2000 and for NMC it is 1000 to 1500.
So what is second life? If these cycles are reduced to 70% or 80% of the original ones, then the second life starts. So if you have degraded the battery to around 75% to 80% of its overall capacity, then the second life will start. Now what happens to the second-life batteries? Two things are there.The first one is repurposing, so these cells within the second-life battery, they are checked and new battery packs are being made. Then they are used for various stationary applications. You can say in for solar backup or any data server, for any type of stationary energy storage system we can use that.
And the second method of handling it is recycling, in the recycling process crucial metals are separated, lithium being primary of them, obviously, and that is derived from the black mass. So they are crushed and black mass is obtained and right now in India black mass is exported to other countries and we are also supplying it to an Indian manufacturer. So, there are companies that are doing recycling and they are supplying black masses to Indian manufacturers as well as in the overseas market. Second life batteries have 80% or less capacity. They will be used for backup applications or stationary registered applications, or they’ll be directly drawn down to the recycling thing.
Pranjal Markale: Shubham, we are talking about the battery side, so, we are also witnessing and hearing more on a solid-state battery side. So what do you think? It’s still in its research phase. When is it expected to hit the Indian market? Because these batteries tend to drive their vehicles for years and years. With a solid battery coming into the picture, it will definitely increase the life of the battery and provide more warranty to the customers. So what do you think?
Shubham Mishra: So I’ll not directly jump to the solid-state batteries. Firstly, I’ll introduce some other chemistries as well – which will come first and then solid-state batteries will be there. Right now, the biggest cell manufacturer CATL, they have built sodium-ion batteries. They have lesser energy density as compared to lithium-ion batteries, but the safety quotient is high. Firstly, they’ll be explored because its commercialization phase has started and there are companies which are selling those cells. So once they are exploited to the max, then we will see in parallel the hydrogen vehicles come into the market.
Toyota was the first company that was betting upon the solid-state battery. But right now they have shifted their whole vision to the hydrogen counterpart. Firstly, hydrogen vehicles will come in parallel to the sodium-ion batteries and then we’ll be having solid-state batteries. Now coming to the point, solid-state batteries, how they work, they will be using the electronic state only for getting the batteries charged. And just like an electronic thing, they’ll be using the speed of data transfer for the energy transfer. But the thing is, the commercialization stage or the commercialization phase of solid-state is not even in its initial stage.
There is no pertinent growth on the commercialization part of it or even the cellular stage of it. If you see lithium-ion batteries in the 1990s to be exact, 1988, the first Lithium-ion cell was found, and in the 1990s, people started exploring it. But the real commercialization stage started around 2004 or 2005, when Tesla also started, and other companies also joined this EV bandwagon. If you see such a journey, then you can see how much time it takes to really commercialize any technology right from R&D to the adoption level. Until these existing chemistries are explored, or you can say exploited we will not be having solid-state batteries in the future.
CEO, E-Vega Mobility
Shubham Mishra is the Founder & Chief Experimenting Officer of E-Vega Mobility Labs, a venture focused on user-friendly electric vehicle products, and has successfully scaled multiple ventures across diverse industries. He has done his MTech from the Institute of Infrastructure Technology Research and Management. With a passion for driving growth and disruption, he thrives in creating tangible solutions that challenge the status quo. As an Innovation Catalyst, Shubham has a proven track record of introducing groundbreaking concepts, products, and services that reshape markets.