Bangalore-based Exponent Energy may have come up with a way to quickly charge electric vehicles in 15 minutes. The startup, which just raised a $13 million Series A, relies on a combination of its proprietary battery pack and charging infrastructure to achieve such a feat.
Exponent Energy’s business model is aimed at OEMs building commercial EVs for fleet purposes. Ideally, the company will work with the OEM to integrate its battery pack, or e^pack, which can then be rapidly charged via Exponent’s network of chargers or e^pumps. Earlier this month, Exponent announced its first partnership with Altigreen, an Indian electric freight vehicle manufacturer, with the launch of the Exponent-enabled Altigreen neEV HD, a tricycle that both companies claim can be fully charged, from 0% to 100%, in 15 minutes.
The problem is that the battery pack only charges so fast when charged on Exponent’s charging infrastructure – if the e^pack is charged at a standard charging station, it takes about 60 minutes, according to the company. Likewise, the e^ pumps do not deliver the same fast charge to all EVs, so the two must be scaled side by side. This is how Exponent hopes to monetize its energy supply. It will generate revenue from both sales of the battery pack to OEMs and periodic charging, according to Arun Vinayak, Co-Founder and CEO of Exponent.
In comparison, Exponent’s business model is somewhat similar to Gogoro, the Taiwanese company that partners with OEMs to integrate its interchangeable batteries into their electric two-wheelers while also building interchange stations across the country.
Aside from the logic of monetizing by including the battery pack and charging infrastructure as a pack deal, Vinayak says it just makes sense from a technology standpoint to do so.
“Fast charging in 15 minutes is a two-sided problem,” Vinayak says. “It’s not just the battery, but also the charger. The e^pump supplies 600A of power to the e^pack (15x industry standard) while managing individual cell characteristics, including thermals, to ensure safety, long battery life and consistent performance even at 50 degrees Celsius. Because our technology is present on both sides, we can manage the energy flow much more efficiently, safer and faster.”
Building such a network requires money, and that’s where Exponent’s Series A comes in handy. The round, led by Lightspeed with participation from YourNest VC, 3one4 Capital and AdvantEdge VC, will be used to scale the e^pump network to 100 location points in each city. Exponent is expanding, starting with Bengaluru and eventually its find your way to New Delhi, according to Vinayak. The company also plans to deploy 2,000 vehicles with Exponent as part of its partnership with Altigreen.
Vinayak said the e^pack is scalable across multiple form factors, and Exponent Energy is currently in the engineering phase for partnerships in other segments, especially three-wheel passenger vehicles and four-wheel freight vehicles.
“Our primary focus is on commercial vehicles, and our primary customer is anyone who manages a fleet, from a single vehicle owner to an aggregator of thousands of vehicles,” Vinayak told gotechbusiness.com via email. “In India, commercial vehicles have the highest energy consumption by vehicle age. (Consists of 10% of vehicles, but consumes 70% of our energy on the road). This represents a highly concentrated market for an energy company like us, as the segment is already convinced to move to electric as EVs drive better than their diesel counterparts. However, the sticking point for adoption is energy, as slow charging (3 to 6 hours) affects operation. Therefore, customers are forced to opt for large batteries with a short lifespan, which makes owning the vehicle expensive.”