After propelling India’s rockets and satellites up above the world’s so high, three former employees of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are now propelling electric vehicles — light and heavy commercial vehicles on the Indian roads.
In addition to that, they also run a logistics company with their electric light commercial vehicles (LCV).
Actually, it is not a climb down for Nakul Kukar, Paras Kaushal and Supratim Naskar, but a climb up — from being employees to entrepreneurs/employers — with their company CellProp Pvt Ltd.
Incidentally Kukar and Kaushal belong to the first batch of graduates from the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram.
“We have developed out electric vehicle technology and have a small assembly unit in Bengaluru. We buy pre-owned LCV shells (chassis and cabin) and fit them with our battery pack, power train, suspension and other components,” Kukar, CEO and Co-Founder told IANS.
Queried about the ISRO learnings that is being implemented in the vehicle manufacturing he said: “At ISRO the experience was in heavy engineering. Here it is simpler engineering problem. We bring in the rocket reliability in our LCVs. We had also worked in building electric aircrafts for a private player.”
Recently CellProp inaugurated its pilot production plant in Bengaluru for the manufacturing, assembly, and testing of lithium-ion battery packs.
The maximum output capacity of this pilot plant is 500kW-hr per month. These battery packs will be installed in the eLCVs that they are manufacturing.
This launch comes after CellProp raised $2 million in June 2021 from a clutch of private equity investors, including Endiya Partners, GrowX Ventures, Huddle Accelerator and Micelio. Last September, the company had also raised $1 million in a pre-series A round of fundraising.
At a time when the majority of players are focusing on making electric passenger carriers, Kukar and his team are into rolling out electric powered LCVs and HCVs.
Kukar said if vehicular pollution has to be reduced then the focus should be on the commercial vehicles.
CellProp has rolled out 10 battery powered LCVs which are owned by a sister company that is into logistics.
“We are owning the vehicle and operating logistics service as a proof of concept. The first 200/300 vehicles will be owned by us. We will run and operate the vehicles for our customers, create credibility, visibility among the truck operators,” Kukar said.
A similar model is also being planned by the commercial vehicle major Ashok Leyland Limited’s electric vehicle subsidiary Switch Mobility Limited.
As a proof of concept, Switch Mobility can also own and operate some E-vehicles so that the market gains confidence and go for them, Andy Palmer, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Switch Mobility said.
According to Kukar, presently 10 electric LCVs of CellProp are on the roads ferrying goods for e-commerce companies and others in Bengaluru.
This year, the company plans to roll out 50/60 electric LCVs.
Queried about offering the technology to bigger vehicle makers Kukar said: “We do get enquiries from OEMs (original equipment makers). We don’t want to be a component supplier.”
Be that as it may, Kukar said the formal launch of CellProp’s electric LCV Oryx will be done next year.
According to him, the range and payload (a term generally used in the space sector) or the carrying capacity can be customised. Presently the vehicle can carry 1 to 1.5 ton.
In addition to providing the vehicle, CellProp hopes earn from other value-added services
With electric LCVs on the road, the next focus will be on making HCVs with a gross vehicle weight of 20 ton and a carrying capacity of 10 ton with a travel range of 200/300 km per battery charge.
Kukar said presently the company’s chargers are in Bengaluru suburb and in the coming months it will be open for other electric vehicles.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at email@example.com)