15 Apr, 22

Financial Express, 15 April 2022

Vehicle owners will know the pain of battling through city traffic to reach their destination, only to then struggle with finding a parking spot. ValetEZ is a new venture that is working to resolve parking-related issues with its platform. They have also launched a new endeavour called ChargeEZ that aims to provide EV owners with more places to charge their vehicles. We all know that the lack of charging infrastructure discourages many people from making the jump from conventional combustion-powered vehicles to EVs. ChargeEZ is focused on providing destination charging at key points throughout the city. We spoke to Prashant Chandrasekaran, Co-founder & COO, ValetEZ to know a little more about the company and what its plans are for the future.

Q) Please tell us about your organisation, its speciality, and the services you provide.

ValetEZ is a smart parking and sustainable mobility venture. We have developed and deployed a cloud and IoT platform for digitising parking infrastructure and are now rolling out EV charging stations as part of our goal of enabling ‘destination charging’ for EV owners wherever they go. ValetEZ has a presence through its smart parking technology business in 10 cities across India. We handle over 2 million parking spots every month across malls, hospitals, metro and bus stations, offices and on-street parking zones.

We enable properties to digitise their parking infrastructure and then offer these properties to users to find and access parking spaces. We also offer EV charging services through our in-house ‘ChargeEZ’ smart charging platform on a pay-per-use or subscription basis

Q) Please describe some of the company’s key obstacles thus far.

As a firm that also builds IoT hardware, there are always higher expectations in achieving quality products. Our tech in parking for instance has over 99 per cent plus performance levels and operates across diverse parking formats, locations and cities. It is a challenge to build a reputation in the market as a quality IoT tech player and we have been able to do this in smart parking tech, which has given us strong credibility in the marketplace.

We do our own R&D, and the support system on electronics development and supply chain is more challenging in India. While Make in India is a great initiative that can address this over time, it has been a challenge.

India being a large, diverse country, the use cases are varied and tech solutions need to be very flexible and adaptable. There are no standard templates that will work everywhere in the same way. This requires innovation and R&D to be done in the Indian context

Q) What is your company’s most distinguishing feature that sets it apart from competitors?

Our deep tech capability, wherein we have designed and developed IoT hardware from PCB design up to the final assembly, and combined it with our proprietary cloud software platform for smart parking and charging. This allows for a very reliable and adaptable smart parking and EV charging solution for both property owners and consumers.

Q) What are your plans for the next 12 months in terms of expansion and what do you think the firm and the industry will look like in the future?

We have recently introduced the ‘ChargeEZ’ smart charging platform by deploying our proprietary charging points for two and three-wheelers. We will soon be introducing our proprietary fast-charging stations for two and four-wheelers. Our goal is to enable EV owners to access safe and reliable EV charging solutions at their destination, be it their home, office, the mall, or any other public space. We will be rolling out ChargeEZ in Bangalore and then expanding it to the other cities where we are already present.

ChargeEZ Charging station

Our vision has been to transform the way parking spaces are used in an era of shared and sustainable mobility. While the last half-decade saw the scaling-up of shared mobility models, the coming decade will see the transition towards sustainable mobility, led by electric vehicles. The EV industry is poised for rapid growth and charging infrastructure of all kinds are essential to its success. We see a very bright future ahead with scope for innovation in technology, business models and localisation. Two-wheelers, which are the most widely owned vehicle class, are poised for the most significant transformation towards EV, with four-wheelers following with a bit of a lag. Through ChargeEZ, we see a large opportunity to contribute to delivering EV charging solutions that offer best in class safety and reliability to EV owners.

Q) Give us some details on the EV chargers you’re installing in India. And what is your go-to-market strategy?

ChargeEZ Lite are our EV (AC) chargepoint solutions for two and three-wheeler regular charging. These are compact, quick to deploy EV charging points that work on AC power and have built-in safety features that are normally found only in good four-wheeler chargers. We are also in the process of launching fast charging solutions across two and four-wheelers.

Our existing presence in commercial, office, co-working spaces and residential properties allows us to quickly roll out EV charging solutions in multiple cities.

Q) Many scooters have removable batteries as swapping a battery as opposed to charging it, is much faster. Do you have plans to set up swapping stations as well?

The Government of India’s (GoI) proposed policy on battery swapping holds the promise of significantly increasing EV charging infra. Interoperability of EV batteries is key to ensuring the success of the GoI policy and the issue of scalability with sustainable economics that battery swapping currently faces.

This new policy with interoperability will open up opportunities to increase the roll-out of battery swapping stations through third-party CPOs (charge point operators) such as ChargeEZ and we will certainly be setting up these battery swapping stations.

Q) The Ola and Okinawa electric scooters have both recently caught fire. What distinguishes a dependable electric vehicle from a potential fire threat in this context? Also, what safety measures are built into a charger to avoid any such unfortunate event while charging?

When it comes to launching any type of hardware that requires engineering, it is important to keep in mind that the EV product has to work in Indian conditions – heat, dust, humidity etc. Bringing technology off the shelf from abroad is not scalable, whether in EVs or in charging solutions. R&D and testing need to be done locally, which is being done by all the quality players in the ecosystem

A good EV charger will have Internal fuses and ground fault detection, checks on power consumption, and temperature detection, all of which enhance the safety and reliability of chargers. A good smart EV charger should be able to optimize battery life also by managing the charging process and charging cycles, reducing the probability of battery deterioration that can result in mishaps.

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