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How Digitization is Disrupting the Indian EV Industry

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Jeetender Sharma, MD, Okinawa Scooters An alumnus of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Jeetender has over two decades of experience in the Two Wheeler Industry and in the past has worked with Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India and LML.

NITI Aayog’s CEO Amitabh Kant made a pertinent point when he said that ‘India needs to embrace the fourth Industrial Revolution and the transition to electrical mobility as soon as possible’. The twin disruption from industrialization to digitization and from internal combustion to shared, connected electric mobility is necessary to gain competitive advantage across value chains, optimize productivity and equip products with features that cater to buyer needs and make the industry future ready.

The EV industry has established itself as a leading example in fostering this transition. Automation in supply chain, introduction of premium engineering, design and technological solutions, development of electric-charging infrastructure and a change in overall mobility behavior have driven the EV industry towards optimization. In keeping with International Energy Agency’s report that suggests EVs to grow from three million to 125 million by 2030, EVs are set to grow massively in numbers, driven by favorable government policies and increasing environmental awareness.

Digitization in EVs: A necessary Change to Drive Adoption
According to ‘Sustainable Mobility Initiative’ by McKinsey, electrification could lead to EVs holding a substantial(about 50 percent) share in the global automobile sector. For India’s EV industry to resonate a similar momentum, digitization across various operational verticals within the industry is necessary. The
industry is perfect for sucha shift towards cutting-edge technology, as it is dominated by startups. Eco-friendliness, performance, user convenience, these are the three main parameters on which EVs are judged. While the difference in terms of technological and engineering ability between industry players reduces, it is the other factors, such as degree of environmental friendliness and personalized experience on offer, that have achieved prominence. Aggregation of ride statistics, traffic volume data, parking space availability, condition of roads to even rating the driver on his safe-driving abilities - Predictive Analytics and Big Data learning have helped EV manufacturers to take the experience of the rider to the next level.

"From employing 3D printing technology in designing to using data analytics for product features or online based distribution model, EV sector has identified itself as a hotbed of digitized processes"

As we move into the Internet of Things world, such vehicles which have AI & Machine Learning incorporated within their functional mechanism are required to keep the user ahead of the curve. Vehicles would need to be equipped to engage easily with devices such as smartphones and laptops, and have in-built mechanisms such as geo-fencing or remote ignition control to provide complete security. Such vehicles will also contribute in reducing the burden of the government on dedicated security allocation, and can act as a foot soldier for the rider themselves, in an almost Transformer-isque fashion!

From a manufacturing and retail perspective, most EV startups are also going the online way as this is where the modern, environment-conscious buyer lies. The players, while incorporating automated manufacturing processes or developing future-ready vehicles, are also going the tech-way of analyzing buyer data metrics and purchase behavior to micro-target products. Some EV startups have decided to sell vehicles only through the online channel with doorstep delivery and service.

Optimization through Digitization: The Essential Transformation of EVs through Tech
Arguably the biggest transformation in the Indian EV industry, however has been the transition from lead acid batteries to detachable lithium-ion ones. The light detachable battery is what was required by the industry to walk the essential tightrope between appealing to commuters and working well through an inadequate charging infrastructure.

From employing 3D printing technology in designing to using data analytics for product features or online based distribution model, EV sector has identified itself as a hotbed of digitized processes. Identifying the fact that a significant target audience of EVs are the ‘smart’ consumers of today, EV players had adopted to digitization successfully and are setting an example for the rest of the automotive sector.